FACT CHECK: Nikki Haley Claims She Never Said Hillary Clinton Was An Inspiration

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

Former Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley claimed in a Fox News interview that she never referred to former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as an inspiration for running for office. 

Verdict: Misleading 

Although Haley has stated she doesn’t agree with Clinton’s politics, she referred to Clinton as an inspiration in her in a 2012 interview with New York Times and a 2019 book.

Fact Check:

Haley, in a recent Fox News interview, claimed that she has never referred to Clinton as an inspiration. The interview shows a clip of Ron DeSantis saying, “Not Ronald Reagan, not Margaret Thatcher, (Haley) said Hillary Clinton was her inspiration for running for office. We don’t need another Hillary Clinton in this country, I can tell you that.”

In response, Haley said, “I never said she was an inspiration.” Haley then explains that prior to running for office she was at a conference in which Clinton spoke and said, “all the reasons people tell you not to run, those are all the reasons you should.” Haley continues to explain that she does not agree with Clinton’s politics, but says “this is how I got involved in politics.”

She repeated the claim at an Iowa campaign event, saying, “Every single commercial, God bless him, that Ron DeSantis has put on the air, there’s not an ounce of truth. None of it! That’s why he has to keep taking the commercials down… I never once said Hillary Clinton was an inspiration.”

The claim that Haley said Clinton was never an inspiration is misleading. In an April 2012 interview with the New York Times, Haley said, “The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.” 

“Everybody was telling me why I shouldn’t run: I was too young, I had small children, I should start at the school board level. I went to Birmingham University, and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker on a leadership institute, and she said that when it comes to women running for office, there will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn’t but that’s all the reasons why we need you to do it, and I walked out of there thinking ‘That’s it. I’m running for office,” Haley said.

Additionally, Haley wrote in her 2019 book, “With All Due Respect,” that Clinton “inspired me to run for office and make my voice heard,” according to Fox News. She also wrote that “I couldn’t get past so many of her problems and policies that I thought were bad for the country. As I had made clear in the primaries, I had reservations about Donald Trump, but I had more about Hillary Clinton. I didn’t feel bad at all voting against someone who would have been the first female president,” according to the Washington Post

Never Back Down, a Super PAC hat supports DeSantis, shared an audiobook excerpt of Haley saying Clinton was an inspiration in a X post.

In 2019, Nikki Haley wrote in her book that Hillary Clinton was an inspiration to her pic.twitter.com/LyCRaIrpxe

Haley made a similar statement on a July 2020 webcast from American University called Women on Wednesdays which was used in an ad against her. The Washington Post did an analysis showing some of the quote was edited out, but she still spoke fondly of the politician saying, “you know, I often say that the reason I got into politics, believe it or not, I don’t agree with anything that she has to say, but it was because of Hillary Clinton,” she said.

A Haley spokesperson directed Check Your Fact to a press release from the campaign. The release references a NBC News article that claims Haley’s comment “was not because of ideological commonalities or political agreement, but as a signal that more women are needed in the highest echelons of politics and government.” (RELATED: Did Nikki Haley Rank No. 1 Among Governors In Chinese Investment In 2015)

The spokesperson also referenced a PolitiFact article. This debunked something different—an advertisement from Fight Right depicting Haley discussing how Clinton inspired her, but intentionally editing out the parts in which she says she doesn’t agree with her politically.

Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter