On Feb. 27, I attended a Nikki Haley rally held at the Wings Over the Rockies aviation museum in Centennial Colorado. Despite snowy weather, short notice, and confusion caused by the existence of another Wings air and space museum some 20 miles away in Denver, the capacious facility was packed with truly enthusiastic supporters.

Haley began her speech with standard talking points about how Donald Trump has led the Republican party to defeat in every election since 2018 and got expected applause. But the crowd really heated up when she took Trump on for his support of Russian President Vladmir Putin against Ukraine.

“We need a president with moral clarity,” she pronounced in her deliberate pedagogical style. “We need a president who knows the difference between right and wrong,” she exclaimed, receiving wild cheers in response.


She got plenty of applause for her call to bring the country back together again, and her denunciation of Trump’s plan to take Republican National Committee funds for himself. But the real climax occurred when she said she was staying in the race to give voters a choice. At that point, the crowd broke into a spontaneous and very powerful chant that went on for almost a minute. “Don’t quit! Don’t quit! Don’t quit!” everyone shouted, again and again.

That brings me to the point. While Haley won the Republican primary in Washington DC March 3rd, she is likely to lose most of them most of the contests on Super Tuesday. Yet I spoke to a lot of people at the rally and did not meet one who thought Haley should drop out under any circumstances during the primary process, or after Trump gets the Republican party nomination at the convention. On the contrary, every single person I spoke to wanted her to go the distance and run as an independent in November.

Not one was the slightest bit concerned that this might split the Republican vote and cause Trump to lose. These folks were not at all like John McCain fans disappointed by losing the nomination to George W Bush in 2000, or Newt Gingrich supporters upset by being defeated by Mitt Romney in 2012. On the contrary, the contempt for Trump among Haley’s supports was absolutely visceral.


I am a Haley supporter myself, and I share this view.

I think Haley should run as an independent, and I think she can win. But to do it, she will need to take the final step, that she has yet to take.

Haley has denounced Trump for his affinity for Putin, but only as proof of his depraved character. While it is true that character should be the ultimate criteria for choosing a president, there is a more immediate issue that needs to be brought to the fore: Trump is colluding with Putin in his war on the US.

Haley needs to say that. She needs to make that fact plain, not merely because it is true, but because it presents a critical threat to the continued existence of the free world. The proof of Trump’s collusion with America’s enemy is not to be found among arcane allegations of secret meetings held in Trump Tower in 2016 or Moscow hotels in 2013. No, it is in the open – front and center – as Trump pressures Republicans in Congress to cut off all US arms deliveries to Ukraine. This is exactly what Putin requires if he is to succeed in conquering Ukraine.


So, the fact of the matter is that Trump is working with Putin, not as a future hypothetical, but now, and on a matter of grave consequences.

Deadly collusion

If Putin and Trump succeed in this venture, the consequences for the Western alliance will be catastrophic. Ukraine’s million-man armed forces will be deleted from the West’s order of battle; Russia will be greatly strengthened both technically and materially; and the Russian army will be advanced to the borders of NATO allies Poland and Romania.

Russian occupiers will massacre hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine to crush resistance in the country and send millions of refugees into western Europe to bring to power anti-immigrant parties sponsored by the Kremlin. 

Under those circumstances, the US would have to send 500,000 men to Europe to defend the Baltic States or watch the Western alliance which has secured the world against another general war for nearly eight decades disintegrate.

To be sure, US President Joe Biden’s policy of spooning out arms to Ukraine and denying that country fighter aircraft, long range missiles, and other weapons essential for victory, has had horrific consequences. But Trump is openly pushing for a policy and an outcome that would be even worse.


Haley needs to bring this to the front. Furthermore, while she has forcefully pointed out how Biden disgraced the US by ordering the rout of US forces in Afghanistan, the fact of the matter is that betrayal was agreed to in advance by Trump. This does not excuse Biden – he could have rejected Trump’s decision to deliver 20 million Afghan women and girls into slavery, discredit the US, abandon a strategic outpost of great value in central Asia, and undermine deterrence globally. But it was Trump’s policy first.

In short, Haley needs to be willing to abandon the conceit that the problem with Trump is that he might not win. An even bigger problem is that he might. She needs to be willing to say that Trump is as unacceptable as Biden and stand by that.

The West faces its worst crisis since 1938. Biden is grossly inadequate to deal with it, and Trump is with the other side. Haley is not just running against “two grumpy old men.” She is running against a spent political hack and a dangerous demagogue allied to America’s enemy. The free world desperately needs a real leader. Haley needs to rise to the occasion.

Will she do it? It remains to be seen, but – if she does – a lot of Americans are ready to stand with her.

Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer. His most recent book, “The New World on Mars: What Can We Create on the Red Planet,” was published on Feb, 20, 2024 by Diversion Books.


The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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