Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley faced criticism and doubt from her fellow Republican presidential candidates and some political analysts after she took a hardline position against Russia in the first primary debate of the 2024 election cycle on Wednesday night.
Haley, who is widely seen as the leading alternative to former President Donald Trump, accused entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy of “choosing a murderer” in Russian President Vladimir Putin for saying that supporting Ukraine was not a priority for the United States. She also defended her record in the Trump administration and her views, arguing that the GOP needs a fresh face to appeal to a broader coalition of voters.
However, Haley’s anti-Russia stance did not seem to resonate with some of her rivals, who questioned her foreign policy experience and her motives. Ramaswamy, who is the youngest and richest candidate in the race, hit back at Haley for “pushing this lie” about him and suggested that she was backing Ukraine at the behest of large defense contractors. He also said that he would focus on securing America’s own border.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is known for his close ties to Trump and his popularity among the conservative base, also raised his hand alongside Ramaswamy to indicate that he would not support increasing aid to Ukraine. He said that Europe needs to step up and that America should not get involved in a “territorial dispute” between Ukraine and Russia.
Some political analysts said that Haley’s anti-Russia rhetoric may not work in her favor and may be more like a stunt to differentiate herself from Trump and his loyalists. They pointed out that Trump, who skipped the debate and aired a pre-recorded interview. They also noted that many Republican voters are weary of foreign wars and interventions and may not see Russia as a major threat.