Watch CBS News

Nikki Haley defends darker tone of Republican National Convention

Ambassador Nikki Haley on first night of RNC
Ambassador Nikki Haley discusses RNC night one and Trump's agenda 04:24

Former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was among the opening speakers of the 2020 Republican National Convention and, like most of the night's addresses, she took jabs at Democrats and painted a grim picture of the United States under a Biden presidency. The tone was a stark departure from the optimistic tone that President Trump's aide promised in the lead up to the event.

Haley defended the opening day's bleak picture, saying it just reflected what Americans see when "they the turn on TV."

"They look at the protests, they look at the riots, they look at the rage. They see what's happening in Portland, they see what's happening in Wisconsin, they see those things," she said on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday. 

She told co-host Anthony Mason the convention's message was the country is "a work in progress" and that Republicans were the ones to "build on that progress." Haley also discussed the recent protests in Wisconsin over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, and the administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read their conversation below:

Anthony Mason: President Trump's former U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley, joins us now from Washington. Good morning, Ambassador. What does the Republican Party need to do this week, do you think, and did they start it last night? 

Nikki Haley: Good morning. Well, I think they absolutely started it last night. I mean, talking about how the country is a work in progress and we have to continue to build on that progress. You know, whether it is trying to overcome COVID, whether it's trying to fight off China and Iran, whether it's trying to continue to build our economy back up to where President Trump had it before COVID hit, you know, all of those things — education choices and going further. I mean those are all things that we need to continue to do and I think the Republican party needs to continue to talk about policies and substance and where we're going from here. 

Mason: As Ben Tracy reported, the Republican Party said going in that this was going to be an optimistic convention, but a lot of people saw a very dark picture painted last night about the Democrats — there were going to be vengeful mobs storming the suburbs. That doesn't sound very optimistic. 

Haley: Well, I think it's because they turn on the TV and that's what they see. They look at the protests, they look at the riots, they look at the rage. And they see what's happening in Portland, they see what's happening in Wisconsin, they see those things. I can tell you from South Carolina, we know what it's like to have a dirty cop. We dealt with one, when one shot Walter Scott in the back multiple times when he was unarmed. But we came together. We talked about it. We passed the first body camera bill in the country. We didn't have the riots and the rage. And that's what this is all about. Lawlessness will not make progress. Lawlessness does nothing but create more lawlessness. And so that's where the Republican Party is trying to take it. Look, there is a better way and we have to go that way as opposed to going towards violence and rage. 

Mason: But we have yet another shooting, as you said, in Wisconsin. You're seeing overnight reactions to that. If you're a Black person in this country, shouldn't you be asking why does this keep happening? 

Haley: Absolutely we should ask questions, but that's just it. We've got to find out exactly what happened in this domestic dispute, what the background is. But it never — it's always a good thing to talk about what is happening, what the fears are, what the concerns are, and how we're going to take us to the next level. You know I can tell you in South Carolina, one of the things that we found is you can't move a dirty cop from one area to another area because the dirty cop is going to do the same thing. 

You have to have — the reason we passed body cameras is you have to have accountability for good cops and for bad cops. But the one thing you don't do is you don't demonize all police officers in the process. We've got a lot of good police officers. When we created that body camera bill, we did it with law enforcement. We did it with Walter Scott's family. We did it by talking about what we needed to do to improve, not by demonizing the good guys. You go by holding the bad guys accountable. That's what needs to be happening. 

Mason: Ambassador, the president continues to downplay the coronavirus saying again yesterday the virus is going to go away. The death toll is now at 177,000. We had 38,000 new cases yesterday. Do you consider the administration's response to the virus successful? 

Haley: Well, listen, there's not an American in this country that shouldn't be furious at China for covering up, lying and allowing this to get to this point. Having said that, these are unprecedented times. There is no president that could have predicted this was going to happen, but the key is how do we make today better than yesterday? Our testing is better. The fact that — one of the things that will go down as one of the best things the president has done is loosening up the regulations so that pharmaceutical companies can actually help us get a vaccine. That's going to be huge. We're going to have that by December. We're going to hopefully have everybody treated and next spring it will be a new day. 

But we are now trying to push through that. Are the lives that we've lost okay? No. That's why we're all so angry at China. That's why we want them held accountable. That's why we called out the World Health Organization. We have to keep doing those things so that should there, God forbid, ever be another virus, that this does not happen again. 

Mason: Nikki Haley, thank you very much for being with us this morning. 

Haley: Thanks so much. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.