Nikki Haley gives her stump speech Credit: Christine Stuart photo

STAMFORD, CT – “Who knew Connecticut had this many Republicans,” Republican Presidential candidate Nikki Haley joked as she opened up her 30-minute stump speech Wednesday at the Prescott Bush dinner.

“Don’t let them tell you, you can’t win. You can do that,” Haley told a room of more than 500 Republicans who haven’t elected one of their own to Congress in 15 years.

The former South Carolina Governor didn’t hold back with her honesty about what’s happening in the country, with the economy, and its $32 trillion debt.

“I’ve always spoken hard truths and I’m going to do that with you today,” Haley said. “It would be easy for me to say Biden did that to us. But our Republicans did that to us too.”

She was referring to the $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus bill “that passed with no accountability whatsoever, expanded welfare leaving us with 90 million Americans on Medicaid, 42 million Americans on food stamps. And did Republicans try to make that right once they made that mistake? No, they doubled down on it and opened up earmarks for the first time in 10 years.”

“When you see this debt discussion right now, know that it’s a national bipartisan disgrace,” Haley said. “There are no saints in Washington. They did this to all of us.” 

She suggested starting by clawing back the $500 billion in unspent COVID funds. She said she would veto any spending bill that doesn’t take the country back to pre-COVID numbers.

Nikki Haley. Credit: Christine Stuart photo

“No more whining. No more complaining. Now we get to work. How do we fix it?” Haley said.

Haley, who was nominated in 2016 by President Donald Trump to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also used some of her speech to flash her foreign policy credentials talking about her fight to end any foreign aid to countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Belarus, and China – just some of the more than 100 countries who voted against her attempt to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“When I’m president we will no longer give money to countries that hate America,” Haley said to applause.

Lori Rosasco-Schwartz of Trumbull said she was impressed with Haley’s brand of common sense.

She wasn’t bashing anyone, she was offering solutions and demonstrating how she did that in South Carolina.

Haley didn’t mention any of the other candidates in the race. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott have already officially announced their bids for president. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence are expected to announce theirs in the coming days.

“She’ll make a good vice president,” Joe Visconti of West Hartford said. 

Nikki Haley Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Jayme Stevenson, former Darien first selectwoman and congressional candidate, said she’s offended by that comment.

“Why should a woman be second in line?” she asked. “She’s tough in all the right ways and is exactly what this nation needs right now.” She said she’s not a polarizing figure, which is what America needs at the moment.

She said Haley called former President Donald Trump before she entered the race and told him that she’s in it to win it.

Visconti doesn’t believe it.

He said Haley doesn’t have the experience and the tenacity to withstand the “hate of the left.” He said that the “Trump base doesn’t want her.” However, Visconti pointed out that Trump is not attacking her.

Prior to her speech, Haley held three fundraisers. One in Madison, one in Fairfield, and a luncheon in Darien co-hosted by Stevenson. Haley has raised more than $8 million in her first six weeks in the race, according to Federal Election Commission records.

“She gives me hope that I haven’t had in a very long time,” Stevenson said.