NASHUA, New Hampshire — Climate protesters disrupted Nikki Haley’s rally in Nashua Saturday evening, calling the former South Carolina governor a “climate criminal.”

The protesters from the Sunrise Movement — a nationwide initiative advocating for clean air and water — said after the rally their goal is to send a message.

“We are here because our generation knows the climate crisis has to be at the forefront of this election,” said Ada, a 17-year-old protester and Oregon resident who would not give her last name. “This is the most important election of our lives. If we don’t pass landmark climate policy under the next presidency, we’re not going to solve the climate crisis.”

Climate protesters disrupted Nikki Haley’s rally in Nashua Saturday evening, calling the former South Carolina governor a “climate criminal.”

The protesters stood up at the beginning of Haley’s speech, drowning out her rehearsed points on mental competency tests for legislators. Haley didn’t respond as the protesters, in turn, stood up and shouted, asking “why are you letting our homes be destroyed by climate disasters?” and claiming Haley takes money from the fossil fuel industry.

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As security dragged the protesters out of the room, they unfurled banners declaring “Haley: Climate Criminal,” still yelling their message as attendees tried to drown them out with chants of “Nikki” and “U.S.A.”

Haley didn’t respond to their message, though she noted that living in a country allowing freedom of speech protects protesters voicing their opinions.

“Don’t boo someone like that,” Haley told the crowd. “You know why? Because my husband and other military men and women sacrifice for us every day for her to be able to do that.”

Nick Corasaniti, New York Times national politics reporter, said of the early states in the presidential primary process, New Hampshire is the…

Despite being escorted out of the rally, Ada said the protest and others like it can be considered successful because they force candidates to choose between confronting the climate issue directly and staying silent.

“She can’t even answer us,” Ada said. “I feel angry and scared as a young person. I also know from the fact that she can’t even answer us that she is afraid of us, and that’s a sign that our movement is winning.”

Protesters from the Sunrise Movement disrupted campaign events for both former President Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy last week in Iowa.

After Haley’s rally, the movement’s X account posted about the protest, calling Haley a “Koch-pawn” — a reference to her ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Ada said the movement and young voters in general are committed to pushing for a climate emergency declaration.

“We are making a statement that the youth vote is clearly connected back to climate action,” Ada said. “And no matter what candidate it is, our generation is demanding that we receive climate action and climate policy at every level right now.”

Richard Perrins is reporting from New Hampshire in conjunction with a project of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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