Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley said Sunday she doesn’t believe states can secede from the US just days after she appeared to suggest Texas could.
“No, according to the Constitution, they can’t,” Haley, 52, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The comments marked a turnaround from an appearance on the “Breakfast Club” radio show last week, where Haley told host Charlamagne Tha God that, “If that whole state says, ‘We don’t want to be part of America anymore,’ I mean, that’s their decision to make.
“Let’s talk about what’s reality. Texas isn’t going to secede,” she added.
On Sunday, Haley claimed those remarks were misunderstood.
“What I said is when government stops listening, let’s remember states’ rights matter,” she said. “You have to be as close to the people as possible. No one is talking about seceding. That’s not an issue at all.”
She pointed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent assertion that the Lone Star State’s right to defend itself is the supreme law of the land.
Abbott has vowed to continue deploying state resources as well as razor wire along the US-Mexico border in response to what he calls a federal government’s failure to prevent an invasion.
“Texans are frustrated, and rightfully so,” Haley explained. “Governor Abbott’s frustrated, and rightfully so. When have you ever seen a president not support a governor when they’re trying to keep their people safe? It’s a real problem.”
Prior to Haley’s remarks about secession, Haley previously caused when she didn’t mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War.
The backlash to the gaffe forced her to later say, “Of course, the Civil War was about slavery.”
Haley’s home state of South Carolina, where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017, was the first to secede in 1860 in the wake of President Abraham Lincoln’s victory.
The Constitution does not make any direct mention about secession, but following the Union victory in the Civil War, the Supreme Court ruled in 1869 in Texas v. White that states are not allowed to unilaterally secede.
Haley is GOP frontrunner former President Donald Trump’s last-standing heavyweight rival in the battle for the party nomination.
She is banking heavily on a strong showing in her home state of South Carolina on Feb. 24.
“Why are we doing this? Why are we allowing ourselves to have two 80-year-olds, who can’t serve eight years, who both are diminished, whether it’s in their character or in their mental capacity,” Haley said on CNN.