Thinking Citizen Blog — Is Nikki Haley the Best Choice Among the Republican Candidates? The Only Serious Choice?

John Muresianu
5 min readAug 29, 2023


Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Is Nikki Haley the Best Choice Among the Republican Candidates? The Only Serious Choice?

She has executive experience as Governor of a state. She has foreign policy experience as Ambassador to the United Nations. She is a realist on the abortion issue — upholding the sanctity of life but opposing a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks. She showed courage in removing the Confederate flag from the North Carolina capitol. She is a woman, she is not white, and she is in the prime of life. Her chances against Biden are much, much better than Trump’s, right? Or not? What do you think of Nikki Haley?

Today, excerpts from two articles on Haley written in the wake of the first Republican Presidential Primary Debate. One by David Brooks of the New York Times. The other by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. Part Three is a summary of FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of who won the first debate. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

DAVID BROOKS (NYT) “NIKKI HALEY IS THE BEST TRUMP ALTERNATIVE” (below photo of Haley signing bill removing the Confederate flag from the North Carolina capitol)

1. “Haley dismantled Ramaswamy on foreign policy. It was not only her contemptuous put-dwon: “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.” She took on the whole America First ethos that sounds good as a one-linter but that doesn’t work when you’re governing a superpower. Gesturing to Ramaswamy, she said, “He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel. You don’t do that to friends.”

2. “Similarly on abortion, many of her opponents took the issue as a chance to perform a self-righteous bluster — to make the issue about themselves. She was the only one who acknowledged the complexity of the issue, who tried to humanize people caught in horrible situations, who acknowledged the absolutist position is politically unsustainable.”

3. “She was the candidate brave enough to state the obvious truth that Trump took decades of GOP fiscal conservative posturing and blew it to smithereens. The other candidates assumed the usual conservative postures about cutting taxes and spending, but she introduced the reality: under Trump the GOP added $8 trillion to the national debt.”


1. “Ms. Haley said, accurately, that passing a national abortion ban at 15 weeks is politically off the table, since it would require 60 votes in the Senate. She has argued this before, but many Republicans might be hearing it for the first time.”

2. “The former South Carolina Governor instead suggested — brace yourself — consensus policy-making. “Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions?” she asked. “Can’t we all agree that contraception should be available?”

3. “Abortion advocates won a referendum last year in Kansas, of all places, by 18 points. Then Michigan passed, by 14 points, a state constitutional amendment going beyond Roe v. Wade. Ms. Haley’s point is that to get the kind of durable consensus that Mr. Pence wants will take changing more minds and hearts, and incremental progress can be made until then. Sometimes that’s what leadership looks like, even if nobody finds the results fully satisfying.”

NB: “Ms. Haley’s honesty didn’t stop there. “Donald Trump added $8 trillion to our debt,” she said. “You look at the 2024 budget: Republicans asked for $7.4 billion in earmarks. Democrats asked for $2.8 billion. So you tell me who are the big spenders.” Those figures are backed by a Roll Call story last month: “House Republicans have so thoroughly stacked the earmarking deck in their favor in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year that the top Democratic recipient doesn’t even appear in the top 60.” “Then there was the elephant not in the room, as Fox News host Bret Baier put it, meaning former President Trump. “Three-quarters of Americans don’t want a rematch between Trump and Biden,” Ms. Haley said. “And we have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America. We can’t win a general election that way.” Is Haley the voice of reason in a country gone mad?

WHO WON THE FIRST REPUBLICAN PRIMARY DEBATE? (Below poll results two days after the debate)

1. According to FiveThirtyEight, 29% said DeSantis did best, 26% Ramaswamy, and only 15% Haley.

2. However, the share of Republican voters who are considering voting for Haley after the debate versus before the debate leapt from 30.2% to 46.7%, by far the biggest jump in a positive direction.

3. By contrast, Ramaswamy’s percentage rose from 40.8% to 46.3%. DeSantis rose from 63.0% to 67.5% and Scott’s from 41.1% to 43.1%.

FOOTNOTE — Biographical tidbits

1. She was born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa.

2. Her parents were Sikh immigrants from Amritsar, Punjab, India.

3. Nikki means “little one” in Punjabi.

NB: Her father became a professor of biology at Vorhees, an historically black college. Her mother, trained as a lawyer, started and managed a women’s clothing boutique for 32 years. For more fascinating details see the last link below.

Opinion | Nikki Haley Is the Best Trump Alternative

Opinion | Nikki Haley’s GOP Debate Truths

Who Won The First Republican Debate?


“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My spin — then periodically review, re-rank, and exchange your list with those you love. I call this the “Orion Exchange” because seven is about as many as any human can digest at a time. Game?


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, (11/17/20)

#3 Israel-Palestine Handout


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.



John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.