Even Don Lemon’s co-hosts looked aghast when the CNN personality said newly announced Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who is 51, is past her “prime.”
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon said on “CNN This Morning” Thursday. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.” The two women on set with him, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, pushed back, but Lemon — somewhat astonishingly — stood his ground.
At least until the next day, when he apologized.
According to The New York Times, Lemon received a “rebuke” from CNN’s chairman on a staff call on Friday morning.
Lemon’s take may have been the most eyebrow-raising, but Haley wasn’t treated much better by other media outlets after her announcement this week. The New York Times opinion page declared “Nikki Haley Will Not Be the Next President,” while a Wall Street Journal editorial said there was “no clear rationale” for her candidacy.
Even the usually circumspect The Dispatch had a column decrying the “vacuousness” of Haley’s campaign, while The Atlantic called her campaign “pointless.”
Haley is the former governor of South Carolina, and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — usually a pedigree worthy of some level of serious consideration. No, she isn’t polling well at this point. She’s garnering about 3%-4% in early polls, but have you seen where former President Donald Trump was polling at this point in 2015? He didn’t even make the cut on the list of candidates for some pollsters.
It’s a little early to count someone out.
Claims that Haley is uncomfortable with her Sikh and Indian heritage surfaced in a Politico story, which — much like Don Lemon’s hot take — drew criticism from people across the political spectrum. This is not a new line on Haley. But she has not shied away from her immigrant parents or her Punjabi Sikh heritage, which she brought up in her campaign launch video. And during her time as governor, she famously removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol.
Politico reporters aren’t the only ones looking to criticize Haley over her connection to her heritage. You may not want to search for information on Haley using her given first name, Nimrata, unless you want to be disappointed in many of your fellow Americans.
Other critiques of Haley floated this week relate to her relationship with her former boss, Trump. While Republican criticism of Trump seems to be a favorite genre for members of the media, it doesn’t seem like a very useful metric for American voters, who would probably rather understand where Haley and other candidates stand on the policies that will affect their day-to-day lives.
The Washington press will likely be pulling out the ‘how much did you denounce Trump’ measuring stick for every Republican candidate. But many voters — except for Trump’s biggest fans and detractors — seem eager to talk about anything else besides Trump.
Luckily for Haley, many of these critiques may actually help her with the Republican base — especially Lemon’s offensive take on Haley’s age.
Haley was on Fox News on Friday where she seemed happy to have the opportunity to respond to attacks from the media. “I have always made the liberals’ heads explode,” she said.
And, of course, Haley is not past her prime, according to research. Psychology of Women’s Quarterly says a woman in her 50s may in fact be in what is the prime of her life. And why not? That criticism, at least, should be put well to rest.