Nikki Haley appears on ‘SNL’, says she should’ve previously stated slavery caused Civil War

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Studio 8H at New York City’s Rockefeller Center may be as close as Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley is going to get to a debate venue for a bout with former President Donald Trump.

The former South Carolina governor, who pulled out of a scheduled Republican candidate debate in New Hampshire last month after it was clear Trump would not attend, appeared as herself in a CNN election-year town hall sketch during the “Saturday Night Live” cold open Saturday.

The appearance not only got Haley some face time with a version of the frontrunner and her former boss when she was ambassador to the United Nations, it allowed her to correct perhaps her biggest flub on the campaign trail.

Host Ayo Edebiri of television’s “The Bear” appeared as an audience member during the fictitious town hall. She aimed a question at Haley:

“I was just curious what would you say was the main cause of the Civil War?” she said. “Um, and do you think it starts with an ‘s’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?”

“Yep, I probably should’ve said that the first time,” Haley said, moving on to the night’s introductory honors: “And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

At a Dec. 27 candidate town hall in New Hampshire, Haley was asked the same question but produced an answer devoid of the heart of the matter, saying it came down to “the role of government.”

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At the “SNL” version of a town hall, Haley had the upper hand.

Haley, who appeared in the audience as a “concerned South Carolina voter,” asked a question of James Austin Johnson’s Trump, who was standing on the debate stage.

“My question is, why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?” she said.

Johnson as Trump — who described South Carolina as “one of the top two Carolinas” — acted like he saw a ghost.

“Oh my god it’s her,” he said. “It’s her — the woman who was in charge of security on Jan. 6th,” Johnson’s Trump said. “It’s Nancy Pelosi.”

He echoed real-life remarks Trump made at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Jan. 19, where Trump appeared to mistake Haley for the Democratic congresswoman from California and former house speaker.

Trump has accused Pelosi of trying to undermine him by using her influence to manipulate security and police response on Jan. 6, when his supporters tried to violently thwart certification of the 2020 election.

“Are you doing OK, Donald,” Haley said during the sketch. “You might need a mental competency test.”

Johnson’s Trump responded: “I did. I took the test. And I aced it, OK? Perfect score. They said I was 100% mental.”

He went on to suggest Haley wouldn’t make for a good president because she’s a woman. “Women are terrible with money,” he said.

“In fact, a woman I know recently asked me for $83.3 million dollars,” he said, referring to last month’s jury decision that he must pay journalist E. Jean Carrol $83.3 million for defaming her.

Haley countered that he may be the one with money problems, given the sizable award. “You need to borrow some money?” she said.

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Trump played word games with Haley’s name, then said, “I’m always very nice to you except when I’m implying you weren’t born in this country.”

Then he said, “I’m going to beat you in your state.”

Haley asked if Trump won his former home state of New York. (He lost). Johnson’s Trump responded: “I won Staten Island and the parts of Long Island where there are fist fights.”

Haley later posted on X about the cameo: “Know it was past Donald’s bedtime so looking forward to the stream of unhinged tweets in the a.m.”

“Saturday Night Live” airs on NBC, a division of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

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