Nikki Haley has launched her uphill battle for the Republican presidential primary in disastrous fashion with an invocation from John Hagee, an antisemitic, homophobic, doomsday-believing pastor.
Haley—who has tried to paint herself as a more traditional Republican to guide the party into a post-Trump era—proudly took the stage following Hagee’s prayer, co-signing the unhinged pastor.
“To Pastor Hagee, I still say I want to be you when I grow up,” she said with a smile as she launched her campaign in South Carolina Wednesday.
Hagee has made a controversial name for himself through his claims that Hitler was a “half-breed Jew,” that the Antichrist is gay, and that Catholics were somehow to blame for the Holocaust.
In 2008, he claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for homosexuality, although he later retracted the statement.
The San Antonio pastor, who has also spread doomsday beliefs that the end days began in 2014, tried to sue schools to force them to reopen during the pandemic in 2020, before he contracted COVID himself.
Haley is the first Republican to jump into the race against former president Donald Trump, who’s already firing shots at her over her claims she wouldn’t run against him and her 2012 quote that Hillary Clinton inspires her.
“You should know this about me—I don’t put up with bullies,” Haley said Tuesday in an announcement video. “And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.”
A Morning Consult tracking poll shows Haley coming in at 3 percent of the prospective vote, while the former president still carries 47 percent.