Former South Carolina Governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley called on the United States to return to faith and family during a campaign stop in Iowa on Saturday when asked how such values would play a role in her administration.
“That’s what is wrong with our country,” Haley told KCCI reporter Amanda Rooker. “We’ve lost that faith in God, faith in the American people, faith in our spirit, and we need to go back to that.”
Haley appeared at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Town Hall in West Des Moines over the weekend, where she participated in a Q & A event with Governor Terry Branstad in Indianola and met with Iowa faith leaders.
“Let’s go back to the time when our parents raised us to be responsible individuals, where we went to school and learned how to be successful and where we went to church, and we found our faith and our conscience,” she said.
“We need to go back to that,” Haley added. “We’re going to keep talking about that because we have a country to save, and we can’t do it without faith.”
Officials for Iowa Faith & Freedom, the state chapter of a national Christian conservative organization, hold the annual event for candidates to court the state’s Evangelical leaders, who reportedly have influenced caucusgoers in past years. According to local media, event organizers reported roughly 1,200 people attended Saturday night’s fundraiser.
The event also featured several other GOP presidential candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (SC), former Vice President Mike Pence, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and businessman Perry Johnson.
The question about how faith has impacted their public service was reportedly recurring throughout the event.
During her time serving as South Carolina’s governor, Haley said she was “deeply” affected after a white supremacist shot and killed nine black members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston during a Bible study.
“I remember one day getting on my knees and saying, ‘God, I can’t do this by myself. I need you,’” she said. “And the strength and grace that he showed me, I will tell you, was a defining moment in my life. Because it was the only way that I was able to pull through and get through it.”
Haley said she moved the Confederate flag from over the state capitol building into a museum following the shooting.
“I will tell you it was a defining moment in my life because it was the only way I was able to pull through and get through it,” Haley said, according to local media. “But more than that, I was able to see South Carolina through in a way that she showed real strength and grace.
Among the many topics appealing to Iowa’s faith community, Haley also stood firm on the issue of abortion, telling the crowd, “You have to speak hard truths” on the controversial topic that the American people “deserve the truth.”
“I am unapologetically pro-life, not because the Republican Party tells me to be but because my husband was adopted, and I had trouble having both of my children,” she reportedly told Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition during the banquet’s last sit-down interview. “I am surrounded by miracles and blessings.”