Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke about the U.S.’ reliance on Israel following her fiery spat with GOP rival Vivek Ramaswamy at the first Republican presidential debate.
“You saw on the debate stage, there was a lot of narcissism up there. I mean, there was a lot of arrogance,” Haley told Fox News Digital in an interview. “You can’t assume that America is just going to be fine all on our own. We need allies, and we have not had a better ally than Israel.”
Haley lambasted Ramaswamy on Wednesday over his stance on rolling back foreign aid to Israel in favor of strengthening the Jewish state’s business partnerships with more Arab nations. She accused him of wanting to stop funding Israel, something he firmly denied.
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Republican presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley sparred over foreign policy at first GOP primary debate. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
“He doesn’t understand America needs Israel. It’s not just that Israel needs America,” Haley said in the interview. “They are the front line of defense when it comes to taking on Islamic terrorism. They’re the front line of defense when it comes to taking on Iran. They’ve been an amazing partner with us. And as president, I will absolutely have the backs of Israel so that they can have the back of America.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Ramaswamy said “By the end of my first term, the US-Israel relationship will be deeper and stronger than ever because it won’t be a client relationship, it will be a true friendship. The centerpiece of my Middle East policy in Year 1 will be to lead ‘Abraham Accords 2.0’ which will fully integrate Israel into the Middle East economy. A brighter future of Israel and good for the US.”
“She is intentionally misleading people and it should be called out for what it is,” he added.
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Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley spoke with Fox News Digital at the site of the first Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wisc. (Joseph A. Wulfsohn/Fox News Digital)
One of the biggest highlights of the first Republican presidential debate was when Haley confronted Ramaswamy over his foreign policy positions, specially on Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel.
“Under your watch, you will make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience, and it shows. It shows,” Haley told Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy pushed back, saying America’s relationship with Israel “will never be stronger than by the end of my first term” and that it should be a “friendship” instead of a “client relationship.”
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“And you know what friends do? Friends help each other stand on their own two feet. So I will lead Abraham Accords 2.0. I will partner with Israel to make sure Iran never is nuclear armed,” Ramaswamy said.
He continued, “But you know what I love that Israel — and I’ve been there probably in the last ten years more than most people on this stage — you know what I love about them? I love their border policies. I love their tough-on-crime policies. I love that they have a national identity and an Iron Dome to protect their homeland. And so, yes, I want to learn from the friends that we’re supporting.”
“No, you want to cut the aid off,” Haley interjected. “And let me tell you, it’s not that Israel needs America. America needs Israel. They are the front line defense to Iran.”
Political outsider Vivek Ramaswamy was a big target at the first Republican presidential debate, facing attacks from GOP rivals Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Chris Christie. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Haley and Ramaswamy generated plenty of buzz at the debate, but only time will tell if their performances will impact their polling. According to the RealClearPolitics average, the entrepreneur is polling third in the GOP primary with just over seven percent support, while the former U.N. ambassador is placing in fifth with 3.7%.
However, former President Trump continues to dominate the race, averaging a whopping 55% support among likely primary voters.