April 19, 2024

INDIANOLA, Iowa — For former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, all types of questions deserve foreign policy answers.

Asked by an Iowan about price controls in the health care industry Saturday, Haley responded by noting, “Right now, our federal government gets our amoxicillin from China.”

China also featured prominently at a roundtable Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, held with local agricultural leaders in Grand Mound on Friday.

“Our job is to make sure that we are dominant when it comes to agriculture so that China is always dependent on America for their food,” Haley said in her opening remarks.

And when Dennis Campbell, an Iowa farmer, told Haley he was worried about big government and skepticism around capitalism, she hark back to her time at the U.N.

“I was standing at the Simón Bolívar Bridge between Colombia and Venezuela. And I watched thousands of Venezuelans walking in the hot sun for hours, holding their children to get the one meal they might get that day,” Haley said.

“You look at the resources Venezuela had and you look at the ability to be successful. And because this socialism creep fed into that system, they were literally having to beg for their next meal,” she continued.

Voters have noticed Haley’s foreign policy-centric campaign.

“All the ads I see about you are your foreign policy stuff,” voter Jim Barton, a South Carolina native now living in Iowa, told Haley. “But you were the best governor we ever had in South Carolina,” he added, urging Haley to focus more on her record there.

Haley’s leaning into her foreign policy experience is part of a broader campaign theme. She consistently talks on the trail about favoring a direct approach to China. As the campaign has said before, Haley aims to be “China’s worst nightmare.”

Focusing there may prove a gamble with voters more focused on domestic issues. NBC News exit polling from the 2022 midterms showed inflation, abortion and crime were the three issues that mattered most to voters — topics only tangentially related to foreign policy.

But focusing on foreign policy also gives presidential candidates an area in which to project strength and maybe even appear to rise above domestic political squabbles. However, voters end up judging Haley’s experience and ideas about foreign policy, it’s clear that’s what she wants them thinking about when they think of her.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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