Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley in an address before key GOP donors Saturday took aim at her own political party for enabling what she describes as excessive government spending, according to a copy of her speech obtained by CNN.
At a private retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, hosted by the conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth, Haley was expected to take a shot at former President Donald Trump, who was not invited to the event and was instead to headline the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, DC, on Saturday.
“I know there’s a Republican candidate out there who you did not invite to this conference,” reads the speech by Haley, who has been reluctant to attack Trump directly since launching her 2024 presidential campaign last month. “I appreciate being one you did invite.”
Trump was the only major 2024 hopeful not invited to the Club for Growth event. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is moving toward launching his own presidential bid, spoke at the retreat on Thursday. Haley spoke at both the Club for Growth retreat and CPAC, which this year featured key allies of Trump and several of his family members. After Haley spoke at CPAC on Friday, she was heckled by several Trump supporters, who chanted, “We love Trump!” as she posed for photos with attendees.
Haley’s speech in Florida on Saturday did not name any Republican politicians, but the former UN ambassador and twice-elected former South Carolina governor was expected to call out the group of 158 House Republicans who she said had “voted to keep this ‘gateway drug’ of wasteful spending” in the form of earmarks.
“Isn’t the Club for Growth known for supporting primary challenges to squishy Republicans? If Republicans don’t stand for fiscal sanity and economic freedom, no one will,” Haley was expected to say, adding, “I’m not afraid to call out my fellow Republicans.”
Haley’s speech criticized Democrats, including President Joe Biden, whom she accused of pushing “socialist” policies and “wasting taxpayer money,” echoing her campaign trail rhetoric since launching her bid. But her address also panned some Republicans, who she said were just as much to blame for the spending.
“Obviously, the socialist left hates economic freedom. But so do some of our fellow Republicans,” the presidential candidate was expected to say. “They bad-mouth capitalism almost as much as Elizabeth Warren. You’ll never hear that from me.
“It’s insane that Joe Biden has gotten a free pass for this socialist spending spree. But a big part of the reason is that Republicans haven’t held the line – or even upheld the conservative market principles they claim to support.”
Haley’s focus on government spending came the day after Trump released a plan calling for significant new federal investments, including building up to 10 new “Freedom Cities” on unused federal land and asking Congress to provide “baby bonuses” to help young parents raise their children. Trump also called for investing in the development of flying cars, saying, “I want to ensure that America, not China, leads this revolution in air mobility.”
This story and headline have been updated with additional information.