Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Sunday appeared to dismiss the endorsements of former President Trump by elected officials from the former governor’s home state of South Carolina, claiming she does not “want” them.
Haley, speaking at a rally in Conway, S.C., addressed the swirling questions from the media about Trump’s stacked endorsements from political figures in the Palmetto State.
“So the press asked me, ‘Well, what do you think about the fact that your … governor in South Carolina came and stood behind … Donald Trump with all the other South Carolina elected officials?’” Haley said, an apparent reference to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who served as lieutenant governor under Haley.
“And I said, ‘I’m sorry, do you mean the one I defeated when I ran for governor?’” Haley continued.
McMaster lost to Haley for state governor in 2010 and was later elected lieutenant governor under Haley in 2014. He then assumed the office of governor in 2017 when Haley resigned to become a United States ambassador to the United Nations and went on to win two full four-year terms in 2018 and 2022.
“Do you mean the Speaker of the House and those elected officials that I forced to have to show their votes on the record when they were trying to hide behind voice votes?” Haley continued, a likely reference to her relations with the South Carolina Legislature during her gubernatorial term.
“Do you mean that same political group that I forced to pass ethics reform and made them show where their income comes from? The same group that I banned half a billion dollars worth of pet projects that they were upset about that group. You can have them, I don’t want them,” she added.
Haley made increased ethical accountability a large part of her platform as governor, and the South Carolina General Assembly eventually passed two bills in 2015 requiring lawmakers to disclose their sources of independent income and created an independent investigation commission to monitor lawmaker conduct.
The former South Carolina governor also referenced her state’s two U.S. senators — Tim Scott (R) and Lindsey Graham (R) — who both endorsed Trump’s reelection bid instead of Haley.
“You’re going to sit there and have Lindsey Graham stand up next to you and we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh that’s what we need to be doing,’” Haley continued. “And I’m just going to let the one on Tim Scott go. That’s up to y’all. I’m not going to say anything about it. We have to live with our decisions.”
Scott, who suspended his presidential bid last year, formally endorsed Trump earlier this month and stood on stage beside the former president during his victory speech in last week’s primary in New Hampshire. Trump later came under fire for that speech for levying several attacks against Haley and her White House bid.
Haley has repeatedly claimed on the campaign trail those endorsing Trump are not part of the Republican Party but rather the “political elite.” Last week, she contended the political elite has never been with me my entire career because I’ve always fought the political elite.”
Despite early losses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire, Haley has maintained she will remain in the race as Trump’s main challenger until at least Super Tuesday, while sidestepping questions about whether a win in next month’s South Carolina primary is “do or die.”
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