Just days in advance of the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucus, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) launched an initiative Friday dubbed “#NeverNikki,” slamming Nikki Haley over her hawkish foreign policy positions, her support of foreign aid to Ukraine, and her criticism of anonymous speech on the internet.
“I don’t think any informed or knowledgeable libertarian or conservative should support Nikki Haley. I’ve seen her attitude towards our interventions overseas, I’ve seen her involvement in the military industrial complex,” Paul said in a video posted to X Friday. “But I’ve also seen her indicate that she thinks you should be registered to use the internet.”
The Kentucky Republican criticized Haley’s alignment with President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — whom he called “the forever-war crowd” — on supporting U.S. funding for Ukraine in their war with Russia.
“Her thirst for war is so strong she actually said: ‘I’m sick of talking about a Department of Defense. I want a Department of Offense,'” Paul wrote on X, citing a comment Haley made at an October town hall event in Iowa.
Paul also bashed the former South Carolina governor over domestic policy issues, accusing her of advocating for a gas tax hike, a state-run vaccine registry, and not advancing school choice policies.
“I think she fails to understand our republic was founded upon people like Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, Madison, John Jay and others who posted routinely – for fear of the government – they posted routinely anonymously,” Paul said in the video. “And I think her failure to really understand that or to think that you should register through the government somehow for the internet is something that should disqualify her in the minds of all libertarian-leaning conservatives.”
Haley received backlash for remarks she made in November in which she promised every person on social media would be required to be verified by their name for “national security.”
“When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media accounts, social media companies, they have to show America their algorithms. Let us see why they’re pushing what they’re pushing. The second thing is every person on social media should be verified by their name,” Haley said in a November Fox News appearance.
Haley quickly walked back her statements, saying her criticism of anonymous speech was directed toward anonymous foreign propaganda social media accounts, not U.S. citizens.
“I don’t mind anonymous American people having free speech; what I don’t like is anonymous Russians and Chinese and Iranians having free speech,” Haley said in a CNBC appearance the day after she made the remarks on Fox.
While Paul did not endorse any of the GOP Primary candidates in his Friday announcement, he said he likes “various aspects of several candidates,” including former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and political outsider Vivek Ramaswamy.
Paul also said he is “interested in the ideas of some independents too,” adding that he had met with independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., whose platform includes reining in U.S. defense spending and bringing troops home from abroad.