Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley claimed the US has “never been a racist county” during an interview with Fox News Tuesday.
Haley’s remarks were in response to MSNBC Joy Reid’s comments on whether Haley could win the GOP nomination as a woman of color. Haley suggested Reid “lives in a different America than I do,” pointing to her own rise as the daughter of immigrants to governor and UN ambassador.
“I mean, yes, I’m a brown girl that grew up in a small rural town in South Carolina who became the first female minority governor in history, who became an UN ambassador and who is now running for president. If that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is. You can sit there and give me all the reasons why you think I can’t do this. I will continue to defy everybody on why we can do this. And we will get it done,” Haley said.
When asked by “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade if the GOP is a racist party, Haley made a broader point that the US have “never been a racist country.”
“We’re not a racist country, Brian. We’ve never been a racist country. Our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday. Are we perfect? No. But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can,” Haley said.
“I know, I faced racism when I was growing up. But I can tell you, today is a lot better than it was then. Our goal is to lift up everybody. Not go and divide people on race or gender or party or anything else. We’ve had enough of that in America,” she added.
A Haley campaign spokesperson looked to clarify those comments later Tuesday, saying “America has always had racism, but America has never been a racist country. The liberal media always fails to get that distinction. It can throw a fit, but that doesn’t change Nikki’s belief that America is special because its people are always striving to do better and live up to our founding ideals of freedom and equality.”
More context: Haley had previously faced criticism for failing to mention slavery when initially asked by a voter about the cause of the Civil War during a town hall last month. Following mounting backlash, Haley said “of course” slavery was the cause of the Civil War, adding she assumed it was a “given.” The former South Carolina governor on Tuesday said her motivation for running for president is to prove gender or race don’t act as a deterrent. CNN has reach out to Haley’s campaign for comment.