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Nikki Haley walks back comment that Texas can secede from US

<i>Matt Kelley/AP</i><br/>
Matt Kelley/AP

By Ebony Davis, CNN

(CNN) — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Sunday walked back her previous comment that Texas could secede from the US if it decided to do so.

“No. According to the Constitution, they can’t,” Haley told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether she thought the Lone Star State had a right to secede.

“What I do think they have the right to do is have the power to protect themselves and do all that. Texas has talked about seceding for a long time. The Constitution doesn’t allow for that,” she said. “But what I will say is  …  Where’s that coming from? That’s coming from the fact that people don’t think that government is listening to them.”

Her comments mark a turnaround from remarks she made last week, when Haley told radio host Charlemagne tha God that “if Texas decides they want to do that, they can do that.”

“If that whole state says ‘We don’t want to be part of America anymore,’ I mean that’s their decision to make,” Haley said on “The Breakfast Club.”

Haley’s comments last week echoed the stance she articulated in a 2013 interview in which she said she believed that, under the Constitution, states have the right to secede from the rest of the country.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1869 that states do not have a constitutional right to unilaterally secede.

Haley drew considerable backlash in December when she didn’t mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War during a town hall in New Hampshire. She later sought to clarify her comments, stating: “I mean, of course the Civil War was about slavery.”

The former South Carolina governor is facing intense pressure to drop out of the 2024 GOP primary after losing the first two contests of the Republican primary cycle to former President Donald Trump.

Still, her campaign brought in $16.5 million in new donations in January, making it Haley’s best month of fundraising to date, according to campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.

Haley has said that while she doesn’t need to beat Trump in her home state’s Republican presidential primary later this month, the results need to be better for her than they were in New Hampshire.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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