Nikki Haley says Trump has worked to address America's racial divide

In her remarks at the RNC, Haley said, "America is not a racist country."

August 25, 2020, 10:53 AM

Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley acknowledged on Tuesday that America is not perfect, but said the country has progressed and President Donald Trump has worked to bridge the racial divide.

When asked what the president has done to address barriers minorities face because of systemic racism on "Good Morning America," Hayley replied, "America is a work in progress. You know, if you look at the fact that, you know, we were able to fight a civil war and slavery. We got through the segregation system. We had an African American president. We got an African American female vice presidential candidate, so we are continuing to get better, but we have to always keep improving."

Haley then recalled a time when she was governor of South Carolina and the state passed a law requiring police officers to wear body cameras after an unarmed Black man was shot by a cop.

"That's how you fix things by coming together, by talking about it, by getting to solutions. So, no we're not a racist country," Haley said, doubling down on the statement she made Monday night at the Republican National Convention. "Do we have racists in our country? Yes, but we are a work in progress."

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos then pressed Haley again to explain what Trump has specifically done to "address this systemic racism and the racial divide," reminding Haley that he has tweeted a video where a man shouts "white power" and has also praised the Confederate flag, which Haley called a "divisive symbol" in her speech at the convention.

"Well, I will tell you first of all, President Trump has passed criminal justice reform which Obama and Biden didn't do," she said. "We saw the lowest unemployment of African Americans and Hispanics, which wasn't under President Obama or Biden. We have seen more funding go to the historically black colleges that never have happened under Obama and Biden."

Haley continued, "I'm looking at results at what the president has done. We've seen real change. Do we have more to do? Absolutely. Are we perfect? No, but we have to continue improving, and that means getting rid of dirty cops, making sure we continue to add to criminal justice reform and making sure that every person, regardless of color and gender, has opportunities to lift them and their families up."

PHOTO: Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the first day of the Republican convention at the Mellon auditorium on Aug. 24, 2020, in Washington.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the first day of the Republican convention at the Mellon auditorium on Aug. 24, 2020, in Washington.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The daughter of two Indian immigrants, Haley was the first woman and first woman of color elected to be governor of South Carolina. While serving as the state's chief executive, Haley gained national attention after she called for the Confederate Flag to be removed from the Statehouse following a mass shooting where a white man opened fired at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing nine African American parishioners.

Haley had said she was "deeply disturbed" by the president's comments about there being "very fine people on both sides" after clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters resulted in one woman dying in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Stephanopoulos asked Haley if she still stood by those words, and she said she did, adding that she and Trump haven't always been in lockstep.

"I mean there's been times where, you know, the President and I don't agree on necessarily on the style. But -- and he's not the most politically correct person everybody knows that, but whenever I saw something, I would talk to him about it and he would always listen, and he would always work towards improving," Haley said. "I think that's what we have to understand, is that at the end of the day, the man that I knew in the White House was someone who genuinely cared about the American people. He cared about the status of all people. He cared about making sure that he left his mark on improving America for when he was done."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte.
President Donald Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Haley was also asked about Biden selecting California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, the first time a woman of color was chosen to join a major party ticket.

"I'm not going to take away the fact that this was a huge step for her but it was also a huge step for women, a huge step for minorities," Haley said, adding that she and the senator "disagree terribly on policies" and that she thinks the policies of a Biden-Harris administration "don't help minorities."

Haley went on to say that the Republican Party needs to continue reaching out to people, including minorities.

"We have to go to places that Republicans have been uncomfortable to go. We have to start talking to Indian Americans. We have to start talking to African Americans. We have to start talking to Hispanics," she said. "We have to talk to women in a way that we tell them what we're about and what we're for, and not let others define what our party is."

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