GOP presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley claimed Tuesday morning that America has “never been a racist country,” prompting a flurry of mocking social media posts invoking her birth name Nimarata Nikki Randhawa.
Asked by Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade about if the Republican Party was racist, Haley argued that “our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday” but did not deny that racism is an issue.
“I know, I faced racism when I was growing up, but I can tell you today is a lot better than it was then,” she said. “Our goal is to lift up everybody, not go and divide people on race, or gender, or party, or anything else. We’ve had enough of that in America.”
Haley continued: “That’s why I’m so passionate about doing this. I don’t want my kids growing up where they’re sitting there thinking that they’re disadvantaged because of a color or gender. I want them to know that if they work hard, they can do and be anything they want to be in America.”
The clip struck a chord both with liberals and conservatives. On the left, Haley got dunked on for allegedly not using her birth name, with followers insinuating that she knew Americans have latent racist tendencies that might prevent someone of Indian descent from getting elected to office. On the right, MAGA supporters invoked her name as an insult.
“Use your real name then,” wrote one user on X.
“my grandpa told me to change my name a thousand times when i first moved to the us. i’m sure there are a ton of people w similar stories…” wrote another.
Trump fans, meanwhile, used her former name to insult her after her third-place showing in the Iowa caucus, accidentally disproving her point.
“HEY NIMRATA, GIRL you do know you only beat Vivek, RIGHT?” one X user wrote, referencing the results of the Iowa Republican caucus in which she came about 2,300 votes behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who finished second to Trump.
Despite what Haley says about racism in the country not existing or improving, the presidential primary election had at least one example showing the opposite, with one Iowa voter saying ahead of the caucus that he didn’t like Vivek Ramaswamy’s name.
“I’m not being prejudiced, guys, but I don’t like his name,” the voter reportedly said. “I don’t like where he came from. After 9/11, I still harbor a lot of hard feelings.”
“This is also why nikki haley is pretending to be a white woman. That woman’s name is Nimarata Randhawa,” responded one X user.
Haley has also faced false allegations—amplified by former President Donald Trump—that she is ineligible for the office of president because of her heritage. Those claims echo the “birther” conspiracies former President Barack Obama faced during his campaign and while in office that falsely asserted he was ineligible to be president.
Haley was born in the U.S., leaving no doubt that she is eligible to be president.