SIMI VALLEY — In addressing a crowd of supporters at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Tuesday evening, possible presidential contender Nikki Haley evoked his name numerous times during her speech. She compared the uncertain times the 40th president faced in his two terms and the current events happening abroad and within the country.
Haley, the former U. S. Ambassador to the U. N. and former governor of South Carolina, was the fifth Republican speaker this year taking part in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s “Time for Choosing” speaker series at the Simi Valley presidential library.
She pushed the 40th president’s accomplishments, wisdom and thought process throughout her 50-minute speech by highlighting how the country’s history during his tenure is a mirror image of what is happening today.
Dismissing past lessons is a sure way to destroy the future, she said.
“Ronald Reagan’s life and leadership provide so many important lessons for our country,” Haley said. “It has become fashionable in some circles – even some conservative ones – to dismiss the relevance of Ronald Reagan. They say we must move beyond Reaganism. The times have changed, they say, and it’s only right to change with them.”
Haley didn’t pull any punches when it came to what she conceived as current threats to the United States and bashed the Biden administration in the same breath. She slammed Democrats saying they don’t believe in America and see the country’s flaws as more profound than its strengths.
“Think about … growing inflation, runaway federal spending and debt, rampant crime in our cities, radical leftists running our universities, radical Islamists holding Americans hostage and an evil Communist empire aggressively spreading its influence in the world,” she said. “Am I talking about 1980 or today?”
Haley painted an ominous, threatening and dangerous picture abroad.
She described Syria as a country with brutal murderers using chemical weapons against women and children. She called North Korea’s leader a tyrant expanding his nuclear arsenal while starving his people. In Iran, she said there were theocratic lunatics building nuclear arsenal and bankrolling terrorists. In Venezuela, she said there was a socialist dictator who crushes freedom and tortures protestors and in China, the Communist Party is guilty of genocide.
“Yet as we saw when he spoke to the United Nations, Joe Biden can’t even call out China by name,” Haley added. “Our enemies are not just people with a different view about how best to govern, they are barbaric and want to roll back history to a very dark time. They’ve spent many years building their strength and now they are done waiting.”
She didn’t hold back calling Biden out on the fall of Afghanistan, describing the Taliban’s victory as a disgrace, thereby leaving America weaker in the world and less safe at home.
“It was the fall of Saigon and the Iran hostage crisis rolled into one,” Haley said.
The library’s forum features high-profile voices in the conservative movement to address critical questions facing the future of the Republican Party.
Haley, and other series speakers who preceded her in the series, tackled a range of topics. They included the reason why a person is a Republican, what should the Republican Party stand for and what are Republican philosophies everyone can agree on.
“We must not be ashamed of the American story,” Haley said. “The left is so focused on what went wrong, they miss the profound things America got right.”
After years of involvement in local and state politics in South Carolina, Haley was elected governor in 2010. In the middle of her second term, she was nominated by Pres. Donald J. Trump and confirmed by the Senate to serve as U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a role she filled until the end of 2018.
She later founded and now leads Stand for America, a new policy group aiming to strengthen America’s economy, culture and national security.
Trump’s name was invoked only once during her speech.
“Russia is happy,” Haley said. “Vladimir Putin is thinking about how he can swallow more of Ukraine and perhaps other neighbors. The media relentlessly and falsely called Donald Trump a Russian stooge. Now eight months in office, Joe Biden has done more to improve Russia’s economic and strategic standing than Trump ever did. It’s disgraceful.”
Mark Risting of Thousand Oaks was invited to Tuesday’s forum by friends and came because he appreciates Haley’s approach and demeanor. He found her speech inspiring and informational.
“I feel like I didn’t know her personal background, and I learned a little more about Nikki Haley,” Risting, 69, said. “I have always been a supporter of Ronald Reagan and his vision for America. I think she encapsulated some of (his) thoughts and feelings, so I think she did a good job with that.”
Risting said he voted for Trump in 2016, but he’s not sure he would vote for him if he runs in 2024. He said it was too early to say, if Trump and Haley run, where he would cast his vote.
Anida Margolis of Simi Valley went with a friend to hear Haley speak.
Margolis has always admired Haley, who she described as inspiring with qualities the country could benefit from.
“She has a very elegant way of living and I think she has a lot of dignity,” Margolis said. “I think she personified the way the Republic party should go in her speech. She said a lot of good stuff. She said we need to continue to be an inspiration not only to ourselves, but the rest of the world.”
Haley said when America talks, other countries listen.
“And I think without taking any sides as far as the quality of American life, American life needs to continue as good, or as better as it ever has been,” Margolis added.
In delivering the “Time For Choosing” address, Haley joined leading intellectuals, U.S. representatives, senators and governors and emerging 2024 presidential candidates seeking to answer fundamental questions and advance ideas on the future of the Republican party.
Previous speakers included former House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Vice Pres. Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The series gets its name from the 1964 address Reagan delivered to support Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. A political newcomer at the time, Reagan presented the country with a choice between a “man’s old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order” and “the ant heap of totalitarianism.”
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