Haley pressed during rally by protestor over her calls for sanctions on Iran

Politics Haley 010324 AP Robert F. Bukaty

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was confronted during a Sunday rally by a protestor, who urged the White House hopeful against more wars as she called for greater sanctions on Iran amid the increased tensions in the Middle East.

Haley, speaking to a rally in Conway, S.C., on Sunday, called out the White House’s loosening of sanctions on Iran and suggested the administration’s “weak” leadership has contributed to the recent attacks on U.S. forces and coalitions by Iranian-backed groups or proxies.

“And then he [Biden] just continued to be weak. When have we ever let men and women sit and take strikes like that? And do nothing to stop to stop it? He’s done nothing,” said Haley, a former United Nations ambassador. “He’s got to put the sanctions back on. He’s got to stop trying to get into an Iran deal that doesn’t help us and he’s got to start making sure that we show American strength. That’s the only way we will get that done.”

Haley was referencing the drone strike the previous day in Jordan that killed three U.S. troops and injured at least 25 other U.S. service members.

The strike was carried out by “radical Iran-backed militant groups” on Saturday, President Biden announced Sunday. Calling the strike “a One-Way ‘Suicide’ Drone Attack on a Patrol Base,” the Pentagon confirmed it occurred near the Syrian and Iraqi border in northeastern Jordan. 

A man toward the front of the audience then stood up, and shouted, “No new wars. … I’m done with the military-industrial complex.”

Haley responded, “None of us want new wars.”

The man then appeared to say, “We’re sick of the wars; we want America first,” before chatter spread among the crowd. The man then ripped up a sign and was escorted out of the rally.

Several audience members booed the man as he was escorted out of the rally.

“You know, don’t be offended by that. Because my husband and every military member sacrifices every day for his right to do that,” Haley said, before turning the conversation toward China.

Before the interaction, Haley referenced Iran’s ties to groups involved in ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, including the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which is fighting a war against Israel in Gaza. She also referenced Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Shia Islamic organization, and Yemen’s Houthi rebel group, which has waged several attacks against commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea.

“When I was at the U.N., we passed the largest set of sanctions we decimated the Iran deal, we pulled out of it,” Haley said. “We emptied their coffers, there would be no cash. There would no Hamas without Iran, there would be no Hezbollah without Iran, there wouldn’t be the Houthis without Iran. Without Iran, there wouldn’t be these proxies in Iraq and Syria. Or the ones that hit those military men and women and Jordan, without Iran.”

Biden came under fire Sunday following the drone strikes in Jordan by several Republican lawmakers who argued the president has not done enough to deter attacks from Iranian proxies. These attacks on U.S. bases and forces in the Middle East have ramped up since Israel’s war with Hamas began in early October and have further fueled concerns of a widening conflict in the region.

Later in the rally, Haley was discussing boosting America’s military, prompting another protestor to stand up from the crowd. It was not immediately clear what the protestor said to Haley, but they were quickly escorted out of the rally.

“Y’all, don’t let it bother you. That’s what Trump does. He does disruption. That’s the only way he thinks he can win by planting people like this. I think we’re getting under his skin, just saying. … I don’t know,” Haley said.

The Hill reached out to Haley and Trump’s campaign for further comment.

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