Gov. Nikki Haley Defends Romney at Pa Leadership Conference

Image: Wiki

Image: Wiki

Unlike rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not come to the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference this weekend. Even so, his presence was felt. Because first-term South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley showed up and, perhaps to the surprise of many in attendance, the Romney-surrogate’s speech devolved into a series of pro-Romney taking points and a Q&A session focused almost strictly to audience concerns about the Republican presidential frontrunner’s inconsistencies.

Haley, a strong conservative and rising star in the GOP, was born to immigrant Indian-American parents in the South and after graduating from Clemson University, helped turn her mother’s clothing company, Exotica International, into a multi-million dollar business. She served in the South Carolina state Legislature for five years before being sworn in as governor, and was endorsed by Romney and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in that race.

The story of her rise was interesting. As was her take on South Carolina state politics. But about 10 minutes into her speech, she admitted her presence in the Keystone state was to tell us about Mitt Romney, since, you know, we might’ve missed his 5-year campaign for president.

It was a 180-degree turn. And it ruined her speech. She took questions afterwards, most of which were about Mitt Romney.

“I don’t know what was going on or what he said [about abortion] when he was going against Kennedy,” she said after reading a card which mentioned the pro-life issue, and Romney’s repeated pandering to both sides of that debate over his career. “What I know now is he is absolutely pro-ife and he proved it. He vetoed legislation that would allow stem cell research in Massachusetts. He supported life issues his whole four years in Massachusetts.”

What about the gun issue?

“He is pro-second amendment,” she said, which is “very important in South Carolina. I could not support him if he was not.”

Some roars and catcalls came from the crowd when the question “Who is Mitt Romney beholden to?” was asked. Haley ignored the question.

“Ann,” she answered, in reference to Mitt Romney’s wife. “What I know is what I’ve seen and that is, they are a family that are strong in their faith. They’re strong in their children [and] they’re strong with one another.”

One interesting note taken from the Q&A session: Haley said she would not accept the vice presidential nomination if asked. And she perhaps gave an insight on what kind of person Romney will pick if he becomes the nominee.

“You don’t need a one year governor as vice president,” she said. “You need somebody who has experience and will bring something to the table, and I think we’ve got a lot of those candidates. I’m not worried about the vice president. I’m doing this because I care.”

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