Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Sunday defended her decision to raise her hand in agreement when asked if she would support Donald Trump as the party’s nominee even if he was a convicted felon during the GOP primary debate in Milwaukee last month.
Out of the eight candidates on the stage only Trump critics former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said they wouldn’t back the four-times-indicted former president if he was found guilty of a crime. Trump skipped the debate.
With the exception of former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican presidential candidates (3rd L-R) former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum raise their hands to say they would support Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee during the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum on Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
But Haley said her answer was consistent with her decision to sign the pledge put forward by the Republican National Committee as a requirement for appearing at the debate.
“What you saw were candidates on that stage said that they would do exactly what they signed and pledged to do which is support the Republican nominee,” Haley told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Haley, though, added that she doesn’t expect Americans to vote for someone found guilty of crimes.
“The American people are not going to vote for a convicted criminal,” Haley said. “The American people are going to vote for someone who can win a general election. I have faith in the American people.”
Still, the former South Carolina governor said ultimately any Republican would be better than President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Despite his legal troubles, Trump has managed to remain Republican primary voters’ top choice for president, according to an average of national GOP primary polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight, while Haley is fourth with 5.9% of the vote as of Saturday.
Trump has faced charges in four cases, most recently over his efforts to undo Biden’s win in Georgia in the 2020 election.
He has also been indicted in Manhattan over his role in a hush money scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and in two other federal cases over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, and his plot to remain in power after losing the 2020 contest.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.