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Nikki Haley Warns Against Describing One's Political Opponents As 'Evil'

Natasha Bach

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tried her hand at stand-up comedy—and presidential rhetoric—at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York Thursday night.

After being introduced by comedian and emcee Jim Gaffigan, the M.C., as “the next president of the United States,” Haley dismissed speculation about a 2020 run, telling the audience that it was “so ridiculous” and “way too early for anyone to be thinking about running for president—unless you’re a Senate Democrat during the Kavanaugh hearings.”

Haley also quipped that the Foundation’s decision to ask her to speak was to “spice things up” after “Boy Scout” Paul Ryan addressed the dinner the year prior. “I get it,” she said. “You wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test.”

“Actually, when the President found out that I was Indian-American, he asked if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren,” she added.

Among other jokes, Haley also shared a piece of advice President Trump gave her: “he said if I get stuck for laughs, just brag about his accomplishmentsit really killed at the UN, I gotta tell you.”

But then Haley struck a different tone, warning against the increasingly entrenched and pernicious divide between parties. “In our toxic political environment, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil,” Haley said. “In America, our political opponents are not evil.”

Haley went on to explain that she had been witness to “true evil” during her tenure as Ambassador to the UN, citing examples such as Syria and South Sudan. “In South Sudan, where rape is routinely used as a weapon of war—that is evil. In Syria, where the dictator uses chemical weapons to murder innocent children—that is evil. In North Korea, where American student Otto Warmbier was tortured to death—that was evil,” Haley said.

“In the last two years, I’ve seen true evil,” she added. “We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil. They’re just our opponents.”