South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she would consider being the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party this year.
The rising political star revealed that she is open to the possibility in an appearance on NBC News’ “Today” show Wednesday, a day after delivering the GOP response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address.
“If a candidate wanted to sit down and talk, I would sit down and talk,” she told host Matt Lauer. “I think that’s a big decision. It’s a family decision. It’s a state decision. It’s something I’d have to think about. But I absolutely would sit down and talk with anyone that wanted to talk about it.”
Despite speculation that Haley is being prepped to join the Republican ticket, she said that she has not given the prospect much thought even if people in the media do not believe it.
It’s worth noting that her speech the night before did not merely target the Obama administration. She warned against the siren call of the country’s angriest voices and said Republicans share the blame for our current state of affairs and should look in the mirror.
"I was given an opportunity to say what I think, and I appreciate that from Speaker [Paul D.] Ryan and Senator [Mitch] McConnell,” she said.
It’s likely that the Republican establishment tapped Haley to deliver the SOTU response not simply to criticize Democrats — but to distance the GOP from its current frontrunner, Donald Trump, whose dominance in the polls continues unabated.
Last June, in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack, Haley rose to national prominence by calling for the Confederate flag’s removal from South Carolina’s state capitol. Her critiques of the nativist rhetoric that’s galvanized segments of the Republican base further cemented her image as a tolerant and inclusive alternative.
Nikki Haley speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised Haley’s speech as providing a clear vision for a better tomorrow.
“Proud of my friend @nikkihaley for delivering a positive & uplifting response to Pres. Obama’s #SOTU. Clear vision for a brighter future,” he tweeted.
Similarly, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Haley stood in stark contrast to the president, whom he accused of not confronting the reality of his failing policies. The young governor, he said, is one of the most “effective leaders in our party.”
“She has turned conservative principles into real solutions in South Carolina,” he said in a statement late Tuesday. “The vision she outlined for our country was inclusive and optimistic, and perhaps most important, it was grounded in reality. This is someone who’s done the tough work of governing. I think that showed in her remarks, and I commend her on a job well done.”
But not all conservatives shared this enthusiasm, particularly those who capitalize on the same sense of disenfranchisement as Trump. They were disappointed the response was not a full-blown partisan attack.
Laura Ingraham, a conservative political commentator, described Haley as an “establishment fave” who should have teamed up with Obama for a joint-rebuttal of Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. She said Haley missed her opportunity to stand with the working people who want borders enforced and government shrunk.
“The Haley speech was an echo of GWB, Jeb, Lindsey Graham-style Republicanism. We’ll see how popular these views are as primaries begin,” Ingraham tweeted.
Ann Coulter, a controversial conservative pundit, went a step further — calling for Trump to deport Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants.
Coulter took issue with Haley’s belief that no one who is “willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country,” defining it as code for “open borders.”
On the “Today” show, Haley said she respects her critics and understands their opinions but disagrees.
“I think a lot of what we’re trying to do is say those angriest voices are not helpful,” she said, echoing her response from the previous night.
When asked if that was a reference to Trump, Haley replied, “He was one of them, yes. He was one. There are other people in the media. There’s people in my state. I think we’re seeing it across he country. But yes, Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk.”