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Food stalls at NH City Hall

Food stalls at NH City Hall

DOVER, NH — On her second stop in the state with an early vote, hours after a mass shooting at a Nashville elementary school, Nikki Haley let Granite state Republicans know she wants to ban TikTok, not guns.

The presidential candidate and former South Carolina governor finds herself in the middle of two town halls — one Monday night in Dover and another Tuesday night in Salem — as she tries to woo voters. She has competition here, with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hosting his own town hall Monday night, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis planning to visit the state in a few weeks.

In Dover Monday night, Haley attempted to differentiate herself from the presidential field by being more accessible to New Hampshire voters who wanted to meet candidates in person at their town hall events.

Here’s how Haley made her pitch to voters in the first-in-the-nation state.

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After a Nashville school shooting, Haley opposes further gun laws

Haley City Hall opened amid a deadly shooting at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Republican presidential nominee began her pitch by addressing the shooting and telling voters she wanted more metal detectors, not more gun control laws. She demanded that the schools have an entrance and use the metal detectors there.

“It’s okay if there are metal detectors. There these guests come out, the kids see them at an airport, they see them wherever they go. Why aren’t we doing this to protect these children?” said Haley.

“Everyone wants to talk about gun control. My thing is, I don’t want to take away your ability to protect yourself until you do the things that protect these kids.” Haley added.

Haley calls for a TikTok ban

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill called for a TikTok ban after CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress, Haley told voters she was in favor of an outright ban.

“We will ban TikTok. Ban TikTok everywhere,” Haley said, also stabbing President Joe Biden for not banning the app.

The White House recently threatened the app’s Chinese owners that they would sell their shares in the company or face a nationwide ban.

“What are we waiting for? Joe Biden worried he will lose younger voters? Is that why you’re holding it back (ban)?” said Haley.

Haley leans into GOP culture wars and still fights for her identity

Her performance at Dover sounded broadly similar to her previous town halls, partly basing her campaign on her background as the daughter of Indian immigrants.

“I was born and raised in rural South Carolina. We were the only Indian family in this small southern town,” said Haley. “We weren’t white enough to be white. We weren’t black enough to be black.”

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But even then, Haley applauded the GOP’s culture wars against public education, claiming that nearly all American students are learning critical race theory.

“Teachers have to teach. Parents have to educate. And we need to break this up once and for all,” Haley said to thunderous applause.

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Meeting in person with the 2024 voters in New Hampshire

Haley was the first candidate to jump into the race after ex-President Donald Trump. Getting in the race early when there are so many other suspected candidates waiting in the wings gives Haley a head start when it comes to meeting voters in person.

Her accessibility compared to other figures like DeSantis is particularly appreciated by Granite State voters.

John Burns, 75, a Dover resident, said Haley’s early stops in the state impressed him and he loves the “small town meets”. Her town halls are a sign that she respects “the New Hampshire public,” he said.

Nikki Haley’s age is a plus, voter says

Haley’s relatively young age of 51 compared to high-profile Washington politicians is one of her greatest appeals to Dover-based Jeanne Stonehouse.

“I think it’s about time we got some young people in there,” said Stonehouse, who is 76.

Also at the heart of that appeal is how hard Haley has fought for the possibility that she might be the only woman on the field, telling voters it’s time to “send a badass Republican woman into the White House.”

Stonehouse particularly appreciates this uncompromising election campaign.

“I kind of thought she had a lot of brains,” Stonehouse said. That courage is needed in the White House, she said.

Stonehouse’s grandson, who came with her to see the former South Carolina governor, said he had his eye on a more moderate Republican candidate who could win the general election.

“I feel like Republicans have drifted a little more toward the ultraconservative side,” said 20-year-old Alex Leighton, who said he wants a GOP candidate who can attract younger voters like him.

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