Gov. Nikki Haley: I'm a woman, and I'll be talking to Americans

Gov. Nikki Haley notes she’s a woman and a minority with a nonchalant smile that says “moving on from the obvious” before she dives into economic successes in her home state of South Carolina. When she delivers her speech to the Republican National Convention tonight, it won’t be for a specific demographic.

“My audience is America. My audience is everyone,” she said, speaking to in a press scrum Tuesday.

Her pitch is a common refrain among Republicans, averse to carving the electorate up into mere entities of identity politics but aware the very nature of politics sometimes demands that kind of carving. There is no doubt the women on the podium tonight in Tampa are there in part to telegraph the GOP is a comfortable place for strong women, but it is different from the naked identity-politics appeal of Democrats. Her identity is important as a passport to being heard on an economic message. I am a wife and mother, and I’ve been where you are. Let’s talk about how to make it better.

Haley was asked repeatedly about abortion during this brief encounter with the press. Her response:

“What I want you to know is that women are not one-issue voters,” she said. “We care about the economy. We know someone who’s lost a job. We care about health care and what it means for our children. We care about the deficit and about whether our children are going to have to pay for it. I know women who are pro-choice in the Republican Party. I know women who are pro-life in the Democratic Party. Women, in general, look at the whole picture. They decide what’s best for their families in both the short term and the long term. They’re very thoughtful, and these issues that you fellas keep talking about and the Dems keep talking about is just not where women are.”

Former Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, also a minority, had a similar message:

“While my leaving the party has gotten attention for predictable reasons — a former Obama supporter, African-American elected official and all that — the reality is that according to Gallup, 9 percent of Obama supporters do not plan to vote for Barack Obama. He got 70 million votes. That translates, even by my math, into 6.3 million people,” Davis said.

Logical, and on target. Davis, the son of a single mother, who grew up Montgomery, Ala., and graduated from Harvard Law School two years after President Barack Obama, is also not one much for emotion, or at least any observable displays of it.

“Mitt Romney can win this election simply on the votes of disaffected Obama supporters,” said Davis, his hair shaped in a vague flat top. “That makes them a very pivotal strategic group … It’s important I think to talk about why they’ve moved, what set of forces and what set of issues have caused them to move. That’s obviously going to be the cast of what my remarks will be.”

Expect more of the same appeal from Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Saratoga Springs Mayor and congressional candidate Mia Love, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, First Lady of Puerto Rico Mrs. Luce’ Vela Fortuño, and Ann Romney.

The prevailing narrative says that, by not talking solely about women’s issues and daring to waver from the liberal line on the paternalistic power of the federal government, these women don’t pay the proper respect to their groups. The irony, of course, is that treating women as more than a monolith to be bought off with benefits is exactly what respect is all about.

Again, the full schedule for tonight. Here we go!

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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023