Haley Calls for Ignoring 'Angriest Voices'
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Nikki Haley's response to the president's State of the Union address on behalf of the GOP was much more a rebuttal to the Donald Trump-style of politics that has tainted her party in the race to succeed Barack Obama.
"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation," the South Carolina governor said from the statehouse in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday night.
Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants and considered a rising star in the Republican Party, did not mention Trump by name. But her target was clear.
"No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country," she said in a speech that received bipartisan praise.
Haley's call for inclusion along with conservative policies was reminiscent of goals set out by the GOP after election losses in 2012, when the party pledged to expand its reach, particularly to women and minority voters. The tone and rhetoric of her remarks also affirmed why she is often considered to be a potential vice presidential pick.
Just not likely in a Trump administration.
The governor's State of the Union response underscored how just how differently GOP leaders and the frontrunner for the presidential nomination view the future of the party.
Last weekend, while House Speaker Paul Ryan held a poverty summit here in South Carolina, Donald Trump rallied supporters in Iowa. The billionaire businessman continues to lead the Republican field in most early state and national polls, with calls to build a wall along the southern border, ban Muslims from coming to the United States, and deport undocumented immigrants. His pitch, which also hits populist themes, disregards political correctness and rages against politics as usual, has garnered consistent support in this era of the angry and anxious voter.
Invoking her immigrant heritage, Haley recalled growing up in the South where "my family didn't look like our neighbors."
The second-term governor said the broken immigration system needs to be fixed, and solutions do not include opening the borders or continuing to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in an age of terrorism, Haley advocated for proper vetting of refugees. Immigration reform, she said, should include "welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who picked Haley to deliver the GOP response, applauded her remarks. "The vision she outlined for our country was inclusive and optimistic and, perhaps most important, it was grounded in reality," said Ryan.
But the governor also received backlash from some conservative activists. "Trump should deport Nikki Haley," Anne Coulter tweeted. "Too bad @NikkiHaley missed her oppty to stand w/ working ppl who want borders enforced, American workers put first, govt shrunk," tweeted Laura Ingraham.
Haley was lauded by GOP leaders and many Democrats -- a combination that could fuel Trump's support.
Still, she seemed to recognize the stakes.
"There's a tendency to falsely equate noise with results," Haley said. "Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true."
Haley gained positive national attention for calling for the confederate flag to be removed from her statehouse grounds after the murders at a prominent black church in Charleston over the summer. She recalled the horrific killings Tuesday night, and said the way the city responded should serve as a model.
"We didn't turn against each other's race or religion," Haley said. "We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us."