HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – She was ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman governor of South Carolina and on Monday, Nikki Haley was in the Midstate to talk a little politics and business.
Haley was the keynote speaker at the Pennsylvania Chamber’s annual dinner at the Hershey Lodge.
It wasn’t all sweet talk. She brought up the economy, her time as U.N. Ambassador and why she left that post earlier this year. She also touched on why, in her view, other countries still look to America to lead.
“They do want us to lead because they do want to make sure that they’re following us as opposed to China or Russia,” Haley said. “They don’t like us, but they all wanna be us, and at the end of the day, they see us as the moral authority.”
Haley talked about the early years of her life, growing up in rural South Carolina and working at her mother’s small retail business.
“It’s where I come from. It’s where my heart is,” Haley said.
Her parents are Indian immigrants, and they were the only Indian family in their neighborhood.
“We weren’t black enough to be black. We weren’t white enough to be white,” she said.
Despite that, she succeeded in corporate America, then in state government and, eventually, as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. — a body she now calls wasteful and bureaucratic.
“The only way the United Nations will ever truly succeed is when it’s willing to talk about the things it’s uncomfortable to talk about,” Haley said. “They will talk about everything anti-U.S. and blame us for things, but yet they won’t acknowledge that Iran is cheating and breaking resolutions.”
Haley shared her support for President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, citing it gave millions to a country that she described as a major sponsor of terrorism.
Another hot topic considering the audience: the economy, and Haley’s view on capitalism.
“Capitalism is the greatest force for ending poverty and lifting up human beings in the history of the world,” she said to applause. “If you care about global poverty, if you care about childhood disease, literacy, even the environment, you should support capitalism. It is in the capitalist countries that poor people have experienced, by far, the most economic advancement. It is the best, most vibrant and fairest economic system ever devised, and we should never shy away from saying that.”
Haley said as ambassador, she pushed for America to be more selective in foreign aid.
“We were giving a billion dollars a year to Pakistan’s military, and they, in turn, were harboring terrorists that wanted to kill our soldiers,” she said. “We always help people in need but we don’t have to give to everyone, and we don’t have to give to countries that are saying death to America.”
Haley said focusing on similarities, not differences, brings leaders to the table.
“If you talk about the things you agree on first, all of a sudden everybody lets down their body armor and you can actually move toward a solution with your challenge,” she said.
Haley did acknowledge that capitalism is not perfect, even talking about income inequality being an unfortunate outcome of a free economy.
ABC27’s Dennis Owens emceed the event for the 12th year.