For the first few minutes of this week’s Saturday Night Live, it seemed like the show was going for a pretty standard cold open. James Austin Johnson started off with his familiar Donald Trump impression; he delivered some fun bits about Taylor Swift and the Super Bowl, but for the most part seemed to be staying well within his comfort zone.
Things switched up dramatically, however, when a “concerned voter” showed up on stage, played by none other than presidential candidate Nikki Haley herself. “My question is: Why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?” she said. Trump has famously been avoiding the debate stage throughout the primaries, a source of frustration Haley made clear long before her SNL appearance.
“Oh my God, it’s her—the woman who was in charge of security on January 6!” Johnson’s Trump responded, referencing the former president’s famous slip-up where he confused Haley with Pelosi for an extended period in a campaign speech. It teed up Haley perfectly for a jab at Trump’s apparent mental decline: “Are you doing OK, Donald? You might need a mental competency test.”
Haley got quite a few digs in throughout the sketch, to the audience’s clear delight. When Trump mentioned the $83 million he had to pay in his recent defamation trial, Haley playfully asked him if he needed to borrow some money in a dig at Trump’s long-documented insecurity about his status as a billionaire.
Ayo Edebiri asks Nikki Haley on #SNL: "I was just curious, what would you say was the main cause of the civil war, and do you think it starts with an 'S' and ends with a 'LAVERY?'" pic.twitter.com/J0LKZpkPnN
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 4, 2024
But before the sketch could feel a little too much like a pro-Haley campaign ad, this week’s host Ayo Edebiri showed up pre-monologue to turn the tables on her. “I was just curious,” she asked, “What would you say was the main cause of the Civil War, and do you think it starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?”
It’s a pointed, much-needed call-out of one of Haley’s most embarrassing flubs throughout her primary campaign, one that not even Fox News was able to spin in her favor. It’s been over a month since the incident without a proper apology from Haley, but she sure seems embarrassed about it now. “Yep,” Haley answered Edebiri’s question, “Probably should’ve answered that the first time.”