Thursday night, Nikki Haley spoke at the 73rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. The event serves as a fundraiser for Catholic charities, and under the mission of the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, “brings hope to the neediest children of the Archdiocese of New York, regardless of race, creed, or color.” The Foundation honors Alfred Emanuel Smith, a four-term Governor of New York in the 1920s who fought for the poor and urban residents of the city. Various stakeholders and politicians from across the aisle attend the dinner, often making it a bipartisan fundraiser.
With Nikki Haley’s experiences as ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump’s administration and her recent announcement of departure, the attendees seemed to be captivated with her keynote address. She made sure to poke fun at herself and other politicians in a light hearted manner, all while capturing the spirit of the charity and its meaningful purpose. Here are ten of her best lines from the night:
The speech started off with a joke about her resignation as United Nations ambassador.
“I really wanted this dinner to be successful tonight, so a couple of weeks ago I had this great breakfast with Cardinal Dolan, and I asked him if there was anything I could do to really boost attendance. … He said, ‘Why don’t you resign as UN ambassador?’ You didn’t tell me you were kidding!”
She was not afraid to bring up the President and his media appearances.
“The President called me this morning, and gave me some really good advice. He said if I get stuck for laughs, just brag about his accomplishments. It really killed at the UN, I got to tell you.”
Nikki took some swipes at other politicians.
“Two years ago, Trump was here and made some waves with his remarks. Apparently nobody could predict that … So last year you went with Paul Ryan, who’s a Boy Scout and that’s fine, but a little boring. So this year, you wanted to spice things up again, right? I get it, you wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test. Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian-American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.”
-“…but look at this audience, there are so many important people here, like Mayor De Blasio…I am so getting my car towed tonight. Mayor remember, as a member of the UN delegation, I do have diplomatic immunity … you’re all familiar with it, an exemption from prosecution; or as Mayor De Blasio calls it, a sanctuary city! Oh look, I got the Mayor’s drink by mistake, no ICE!”
“There are a number of my Washington friends I was hoping would be here, but they just couldn’t make it. Cory Booker was here, but he walked out. Jeff Sessions wanted to be here, but he recused himself. Actually, I saw Jeff Sessions earlier today, not in New York. I saw him on LinkedIn looking for a job. Actually we both were. Hillary Clinton said her invitation never arrived and she’s furious. She’s blaming James Comey, and the Russians, and misogyny and everyone. Jeff Flake was going to be here, but he wanted to give the FBI a week to look into it.”
“President Obama is not here tonight, I saw when recently he said you are not supposed to use the FBI or the Justice Department to punish political enemies. Comey, McCabe and Strzok say ‘now you tell us!’”
She also discussed the recent downsizes to being a Republican.
“As a member of the Trump cabinet, it is a thrill to be out to dinner without being harassed”.
“People always wonder if I felt different or isolated as an Indian-American growing up in rural South Carolina. Actually, there was a benefit. It totally prepared me for being a Republican in New York.”
She also spoke seriously about problems plaguing the world.
“In our toxic political environment, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil. In America, our political opponents are not evil.”
Nikki closed with this:
“In the last two years, I’ve been to some very dark places where human suffering is on a level hard for most Americans to understand. Just about everywhere I’ve been on humanitarian missions, I’ve come across the (Catholic) church doing incredible work…There are real problems, yes, but must not lose sight of those miracles. Those miracles are the way of the church. I will say those miracles are the way of America.”
You can watch the entire keynote address here. You will be missed, Ambassador Nikki Haley!