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Nikki Haley rallies against 2024 rival Vivek Ramaswamy’s voting age proposal


Nikki Haley rallies against 2024 rival Vivek Ramaswamy’s voting age proposal

Sep 30, 2023 | 8:22 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
Nikki Haley rallies against 2024 rival Vivek Ramaswamy’s voting age proposal
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley spoke to a crowd of roughly 250 people at the Horizon Events Center in Clive Sept. 30, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley rallied in Iowa Saturday against rival 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s proposal to raise the voting age to 25.

“If you are old enough to go fight in a war, you should be able to vote, period,” Haley told the crowd of 250 gathered for her town hall at the Horizon Events Center in Clive.

Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur, introduced his idea in May to raise the voting age from 18 to 25. The proposal would allow 18-year-old Americans to gain voting rights early if they serve in the military or as a first responder, or “at least” pass a civics test, he said. Haley disagreed with the proposal, saying she wants to ensure young people are in “the driver’s seat when we go forward” in politics.

“I want every 18-year-old to vote,” Haley said. “Because guess what, everything that’s happening right now affects your life. And I’ll tell you … Don’t give up on this generation, because I truly believe this is the generation that’s gonna save us.”

The former South Carolina governor has clashed with Ramaswamy on the stage at both Republican presidential debates.

During the second GOP presidential debate Wednesday in California, Haley criticized Ramaswamy’s use of TikTok, saying data collection by the social media platform’s Chinese parent company could pose national security risks to America.

“Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” Haley said to Ramaswamy. “What they’re doing is, 150 million people are on TikTok. That means they can get your contacts, they can get your financial information, they can get your emails.”

Haley calls for harder line against China

Haley told the crowd Saturday that the U.S. needs to take a stronger position against China. She said the Chinese government has already “infiltrated” America through buying land near U.S. military bases and food producers. She also called for a halt to sharing certain technologies with China.

She said China has been “planning war with us for years,” and the Chinese Communist Party is building its military fleet and developing artificial intelligence. She also accused China of using “neuro-strike weapons” — devices allegedly used against military and government officials resulting in “Havana Syndrome.”

“You can’t appease the Communist Party like that … The only thing China’s got to respond to is strength,” Haley said.

Marie Koenigsfeld from West Des Moines, who attended the event, said that Haley’s experience in the United Nations makes her a strong choice for president. Koenigsfeld said she was also impressed by Haley during the debates, and plans to support her for the Republican presidential nomination.

Compared to the other presidential hopefuls running in 2024, Haley seems more “practical” about divisive issues than other candidates, Koenigsfeld said. She pointed to an exchange at the August debate, where Haley said she would work to find a consensus on federal abortion legislation, prohibiting abortions late in a pregnancy, making contraceptives more accessible and ensuring women who get abortions cannot be criminally charged.

There are a lot of Republicans who want a candidate like former President Donald Trump, Koenigsfeld said, but she said she believes Haley can appeal to more moderate Republicans and to independents.

“There are also a lot of Republicans who are looking for someone common-sense, down-to-earth, someone who has the ability to work across the aisle,” Koenigsfeld said.

Yes, Haley likes Taylor Swift

Two hecklers were escorted out by police after interrupting Haley during her speech asking her if she liked pop singer Taylor Swift. Before opening up the event for a Q&A, Haley responded, “Yes, I do like Taylor Swift.”

While Haley said the questions were a distraction, she also asked the crowd to remember “how blessed we are that we have freedom of speech.”

“My husband’s a combat veteran — they fought for us to have that,” Haley said. “So whether he wants to talk about Taylor Swift or not, God bless him. He’s got the right to ask.”