South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley To Deliver Response To State Of The Union

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been selected to deliver the response to next week’s State of the Union Address:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver the response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday, her office confirmed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Haley to deliver the Republican response to Obama’s speech on Jan. 12. She described the entreaty as an honor and gave a sense of what she would speak about.

“This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities,” Haley said in a statement. “I intend to speak about both.”

Haley, a potential vice presidential pick, was reelected as South Carolina’s governor in November 2014. Born to Indian immigrants in Bamberg, South Carolina, she is the first female and first minority governor of the state. At 43, Haley is also the youngest governor in the country.


“Nikki Haley is a proven leader and committed reformer who believes deeply in the promise of the country we all share,” McConnell said in a statement. “Not only has Governor Haley fought to bring opportunity and prosperity to the people of her state, but she’s also demonstrated how bringing people together can bring real results.”

Despite praise for her bipartisan leadership following the Charleston massacre, Haley has, at times, been at odds with Democrats in her state and the Obama administration. More recently, she was among the dozens of Republican governors in November to say they would oppose admitting any Syrian refugees into their states. Obama plans to allow 10,000 Syrians escaping a civil war to seek refuge in the U.S. this year.

Haley will be the third consecutive woman to deliver a response to Obama’s State of the Union. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst delivered the response last year, and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers the year prior. Haley also will be the first South Carolinian to give the address and the first governor to do so since 2012 when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels gave the address.

Haley’s profile has risen significantly since the Charleston shootings last year and the subsequent controversy over the Confederate flag that led to its removal from the grounds of the State Capitol Building in Columbia, an effort that Haley took the lead on and which passed on a largely bipartistan basis in the state legislature. Even before then, though, Haley had been mentioned as a potential Vice-Presidential running mate in 2016. Taking on the assignment of responding to the State of the Union is likely to enhance that talk, of course, but it’s worth noting that responding to a Presidential address has been a largely thankless task in the past, as well as one filled with risks. Even when it has been largely successful, it has seldom done much to enhance the political career of the person delivering the address and on several occasions, most notably the case of Bobby Jindal, it has created an impression on the national stage that has been hard to overcome. Haley has a history of being a far better public speaker than Bobby Jindal, though, so she’s likely to be among those who do ‘okay’ in this task, not spectacularly so well that she outshines the President but also not so disastrous that she ends up becoming the butt of jokes the way Jindal, and to some extent, Marco Rubio, did when they did this in the past.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tillman says:

    Was Jindal a poor speaker? I just thought his affect was ill-timed for people that had seen Jack McBrayer’s performance on 30 Rock.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    What did Nikki do to deserve such punishment?

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @Neil Hudelson: It’s their way of getting a sharp potential POTUS candidate off the stage….

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Finally, yet another Opposition Response to the State of the Union Address that I again plan to not watch.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: Balloon Juice reported this under GOP Kneecaps Another VP Contender.

  6. Tyrell says:

    State of the Union: an anachronistic waste of time if there ever was. Few watch it. Even fewer watch the response.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh….” Another lamb for the slaughter.

  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Just remember, Nikki, a base hit won’t cut it. You have the privilege of working even a tougher room than Obama–the GOP selectorate. Also remember that Mitch and (then speaker) John Boehner said the same stuff about Jindal, Ernst, and McMorris Rogers before they spoke. I’d have passed.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Ironic, isn’t it. This announcement came out right after Trump and a bunch of Fox News types said that Bill’s marital infidelities are a legitimate topic for debate. And then they trot out Nikki to do the rebuttal.

    Why the heck do we have a “rebuttal” to the State of the Union anyway. Biggest time waste of the year…

  10. Bill Lefrak says:

    Haley to leftists is like garlic to vampires. Leftists reflexively despise that woman. A female conservative Republican who’s also a racial minority and who’s a self-made woman, too? Yikes. Bursts too many bubbles all at once. The mental disorder that is leftism just can’t process it all.

    Anyways, it’s unfortunate that it’s actually required to have SOTU addresses. Obama’s been out of the loop and mailing it in since, hell, likely since day 1. Watching Obama give a speech these days is like watching an arrested development, N.P.D. and A.D.H.D. grad student huff and snort their way through their allowance money. Painful. Pointless.