Presidential candidate Nikki Haley talks foreign policy with Terry Branstad

By: - September 16, 2023 3:35 pm

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley held an event with former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad at Cemen Tech in Indianola Sept. 16, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley sat down to talk foreign policy and economics Saturday with a fellow former governor and former Trump administration ambassador – Terry Branstad.

Branstad and Haley served together as Republican governors — of Iowa and South Carolina respectively — before leaving their posts to serve under former President Donald Trump. Branstad, whose time as ambassador to China overlapped with Haley serving as U.N. Ambassador. Branstad praised her work in both positions.

“In these roles, she was a strong defender of America’s national security interests and human rights,” Branstad said. “One of the best governors I served with.”

Haley spoke with Branstad and American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce CEO Gentry Collins at CemenTech, an employee-owned manufacturing business in Indianola. The chamber, a conservative lobbying group positioning itself as an alternative to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted Haley as part of a series with presidential candidates on their plans to get “free enterprise back on track,” Collins said.

Haley said if elected, her administration would recognize small businesses are the “heart of our economy.” She said supporting small businesses means supporting fewer regulations, criticizing the Biden administration for measures like the Inflation Reduction Act that put new energy and environmental standards on businesses.

She also said supporting American businesses means changing America’s relationship with countries like China. President Joe Biden’s policies supporting electric vehicles or the manufacturing of semiconductors does not help the U.S., because the majority of those products are made and imported from overseas, she said.

“We need to be smart about the goals that we wish for, and we need to be smart about who it is we’re trying to help out,” Haley said. “Because it’s American companies that we’re trying to help.”

She also said reducing costs for businesses means reducing taxes and cutting regulations in government. She asked caucusgoers to look at “not what I say, it’s what I’ve done,” pointing to experience implementing such changes in South Carolina as governor. Haley said she would not just modernize and cut costs of the federal government if elected, but would stop government overreach.

“Government agencies right now think that it’s their job to tell you what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why do you do it,” Haley said. “That is not what capitalism says. … That’s not freedom.”

Lynette Rasmussen, who came to the event from Des Moines, said Haley was a unique candidate for having both a governorship and ambassador position under her belt. She and her husband plan to support Haley in the caucuses, she said.

“She hasn’t disappointed us yet,” Rasmussen said. “And we believe business is a boulder of the Republican Party, and it’s nice to see her focus on that.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.