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.