Nikki Haley is being criticized for her response to a question about the reasons for the Civil War that did not mention slavery.

During a town hall event in Berlin, New Hampshire, Tuesday, a member of the audience asked Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, about the cause of the war.

“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," Haley responded.

The questioner interrupted Haley and called it "astonishing" that in 2023, her answer did not include slavery.

"What do you want me to say about slavery?", Haley asked.

"You've answered my question. Thank you," the man said. Haley moved onto another question.

“Of course the Civil War was about slavery"

Speaking to Jack Heath on The Pulse of New Hampshire Thursday morning, Haley tried to clarify her response.

“Of course the Civil War was about slavery,” Haley said. "What I was saying was 'what does it mean to us today?' What it means to us is freedom. That's what that was all about. It was about individual freedom. It was about economic freedom. It was about individual rights. Our goal is to make sure we never go back to slavery."

She said the government shouldn't get in the way of achieving that goal.

Haley said that the person was a Democratic plant who did not give his name to reporters he spoke to after the event.

"Why is Biden doing this? Why isn't he doing it to any other candidate? It's because he knows I will defeat him by double digits. It's also because they want to run against Trump. They've tried to help Trump this whole time," Haley said.

NH Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley took issue with her comment on his X account in a humorous post.

"Hey @NikkiHaley, left is a Democratic plant (it’s my grandma’s Xmas cactus in office) and right is not a Dem plant (it’s a random NH voter asking you a simple question). You shouldn’t be potus if you don’t know the difference or that Civil War was about slavery," Buckley wrote.

She did find some defense from New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.

"Does anyone truly believe that the child of Indian immigrants to the United States, who took down the Confederate flag flying over her state capital, is a pro-slavery racist? I say this fully knowing it was a dreadful answer and that dreadful answers sometimes tank campaigns," Podhoretz wrote.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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