Looking every bit like a stunt, a presidential hopeful’s seemingly candid adolescent collaborator spilled the beans on her support at a campaign stop that set social media abuzz.
“Did a nine-year-old just end Nikki Haley’s campaign for President?”
A Sunday town hall in Hooksett, New Hampshire turned into something of a PR debacle for former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley when fielding questions from attendees. Turning her attention to a young girl who’d stepped up to the mic, the Republican candidate set her sights on generating a moment that struck closer to the vicinity of “please clap.”
“Hi, sweet girl. How are you? Good? I love your hat,” Haley said as she addressed the child who had been given the chance to speak. Instead of getting right to the question, the young girl pulled the curtain back on the campaign event and replied, “Thank you. One of your guys gave it to me for free.”
Haley: “I love your hat.”
Nine-year-old girl: “Thanks. One of your guys gave it to me for free.” pic.twitter.com/3XwgU8aWF4
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 20, 2023
As the applause and laughter died down, the ambassador, who had also been chuckling, waved a finger while smiling with daggers in her eyes looking toward the back of the gathering, and said, “I want you to tell me which guy that was, ’cause we don’t do things for free.”
Walking up to the girl, who had asked about the candidate’s first priority if elected, for a photo op with the message, “Strong girls become strong women. Strong women become leaders,” Haley’s best efforts to play off the revelation at the moment weren’t enough to salvage the optics online.
Likening the exchange to that of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s awkward “please clap” moment from his 2016 presidential run, witnesses couldn’t help but wonder if the White House hopeful had her political ship sunk by a child’s honesty.
“Did a nine-year-old just end Nikki Haley’s campaign for President?” asked a supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis while a backer for former President Donald Trump laughed at “Kids and their brutal honesty,” and others without clear horses in the race sounded off as well.
Did a nine-year-old just end Nikki Haley’s campaign for President?
— Dustin Grage (@GrageDustin) November 20, 2023
Kids and their brutal honesty
— ColonelMAGAMark (@ColonelMark4) November 20, 2023
“Definitely not staged.”
— Craig Chamberlin (@CraigChamberlin) November 20, 2023
— David Kudzia ✝️ (@DavidKudzia) November 20, 2023
— Amygator *not an actual alligator (@AmyA1A) November 20, 2023
Previously, Haley had had a more direct role in securing backlash when nearly a week earlier she had made the rounds doing interviews and called for a crackdown on social media anonymity, saying, “When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media accounts, social media companies, they have to show America their algorithms. Let us see why they’re pushing what they’re pushing.”
“The second thing is every person on social media should be verified by their name,” she said on Fox News’ “The Faulkner Focus” before referring to users protecting their identity as “a national security threat.”
While efforts had been made to walk back that position only after Haley had doubled down, the handout hat had not been readily addressed by the campaign. Meanwhile, X users did their thing and found a variety of ways to capitalize on the humor of the situation.
Staged Staged Staged Staged!!!!! pic.twitter.com/TydmvbGP7o
— Daniel H (@Danielhop54) November 20, 2023
— Danny brown (@Dtotheb528) November 20, 2023
— Magills (@magills_) November 20, 2023
— Inigo Montoya (@MontoyaIni36506) November 20, 2023
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