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Nikki Haley’s comments on race prompt clash on CNN: ‘All men were not created equal and you know that’

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s recent comments on the history of race in America sparked a fierce debate on CNN Friday. 

National Review editor-in-chief Rich Lowry argued with CNN contributor Cari Champion over whether America was a “racist country,” responding to Haley’s recent claim that America is not and never has been a racist nation. 

“We’re not a racist country, Brian. We’ve never been a racist country,” Haley told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday. “Our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday. Are we perfect? No. But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can.”

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Lowry said that “for a well-intentioned person” it was clear that Haley did not believe that America has no history of racism. 

“Well, intentions don’t work for me,” Champion said. “It’s just insulting, quite frankly. You cannot run for the President of the United States and not acknowledge its history clearly, plainly, concretely.” 

“Two things can be true,” she said, calling the “precepts” of the U.S. “racist.” 

“What precepts? Like ‘all men are created equal’ is racist?” 

“All men were not created equal and you know that,” Champion said, interrupting Lowry multiple times. 

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Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley

“No, all men are created equal,” Lowry responded. 

“The Constitution was very clear that there was a 3/5ths clause for people who were not free,” Champion continued. “So how are we all created equal? The idea, sure. I love this idea. But they weren’t referring to my ancestors.” 

“The idea was extremely powerful,” Lowry said, referring to natural equality between people as being more powerful than “racism” in driving America’s history. 

“We’re going to have to agree to disagree because our experiences are different,” Champion said. “My experience is very different.” 

“As a Black woman in this country, I can tell you, I have not been created equal,” she continued. “I haven’t been treated equally, rather, in very many instances.”

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was criticized by both sides of the political aisle after she initially declined to mention slavery as the reason for sparking the U.S. Civil War.

A voter asked the former U.N. ambassador during a New Hampshire town hall last month what was “the cause” of the war, to which she joked, “Well, don’t come with an easy question or anything.”

“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run — the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do,” she continued.

“It was about slavery,” President Biden later posted on X with a clip of Haley’s comments. 

Haley clarified her remarks in a New Hampshire radio interview the next day.

“Yes, we know the Civil War was about slavery. But more than that, what’s the lesson in all this? That freedom matters. And individual rights and liberties matter for all people. That’s the blessing of America. That was a stain on America when we had slavery. But what we want is never relive it. Never let anyone take those freedoms away again,” she said.

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.

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