Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, who in the latest polls trails Donald Trump by double digits, got a bizarre helping hand from SNL on Saturday night, when she appeared as a special surprise guest during the show’s cold open.
In the sketch, James Austin Johnson played Trump in a South Carolina Town Hall, fielding questions from an autoworker, an unemployed single mother, and finally, a “concerned South Carolina voter.” When the camera cut to Haley, who, as a reminder, has said she would have signed a six-week abortion ban as governor of South Carolina, she was met with raucous applause and cheers from the SNL audience.
“My question is, why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?” she asked. “Oh my god, it’s her, the woman who was in charge of security on January 6, it’s Nancy Pelosi,” Johnson responded. “Are you doing okay Donald?” Haley quipped, “You might need a mental competency test.
The sketch comes off as a weird Haley fantasy of the fight she wishes she could have with Trump. We’ve all been there. In the shower, or the car, or staring at the ceiling when you can’t fall asleep, you have a pretend standoff with your nemesis in your head. And in this imaginary fight, you dole out the perfect little digs at your enemy, who withers like the total idiot you know them to be right in front of you. The SNL writers room bringing this fantasy to life for Haley and millions of Americans isn’t just cringy—it’s unconscionable.
She’s not Trump, but that doesn’t mean that Haley is here to save us. She has denounced trans women participating in sports, even blaming trans athletes for suicidal ideation among teenage girls. Haley has said that undocumented immigrants are “feeding off the system,” and advocated for “send[ing] them back.” According to the New York Times, during her time as a UN ambassador, Haley “blocked a Palestinian envoy’s appointment and took credit for forcing the withdrawal of a report that described the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians as ‘apartheid.’”
SNL’s cold-open-turned-Haley-campaign ad ended with Saturday’s host, Ayo Edebiri, posing a question to the candidate. “I was just curious, what would you say was the main cause of the Civil War?” asked Edebiri, referring to the town hall where Haley was asked a similar question and responded by talking only about the role of government and vague gesturing towards “freedom.” “Do you think it starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?” Haley, who thinks that Barack Obama’s presidency is evidence that America is not racist, responded, “Yep, and I probably should’ve said that the first time.”
Live from New York, it’s going to be a very long election year.