After the racially-motivated church shooting in Charleston last month, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley stepped forward to insist that the long-revered Confederate battle flag be taken down from the state properties in South Carolina.
Dylann Roof, the man charged with the Charleston shootings, had posted photos of himself with the Confederate flag. Despite its former sentimental value as a symbol of Southern heritage, the flag has come to stand for racism and oppression in a post-Civil Rights era South.
"I don't think that this is going to be easy. I don't think that it's going to be painless," Nikki Haley said in a recent interview. "But I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly."
Nikki Haley used to support keeping the flag. Now she does not. It is her willingness to change her stance, and for what seems to be heartfelt reasons, that has caught the eye of the nation.
Now some are whispering that Nikki Haley should be climbing lists of potential running mates for those GOP candidates who hope to be President.
"She’d be on anybody’s list,” Mike Huckabee said. “She’s done a terrific job in South Carolina.”
Huckabee himself is a candidate. It is reasonable to assume that he has his eye on Nikki Haley.
Don't want Nikki Haley as VP.
— Force Ghost Obi-Wan (@ForceGhostOB1) July 5, 2015
“She could play a pivotal role in [women’s issues, education reform and long-term immigration policy] and in the future of the party,” Republican strategist Juleanne Glover said. “She’s an American success story with a biographical narrative that lends itself to a larger, inspirational story. Friends who know her well have always been evangelical about her potential. They are not surprised.”
That biographical narrative Glover speaks of includes thee fact that Haley was the first female governor of South Carolina, but is also the child of immigrants. She is not Mexican, but still has an immigrant story in her recent past. Born Nimrata Randhawa, her parents were immigrants from India.
College of Charleston political Professor Kendra Stewart said of Haley, “If Clinton wins, it would be wise for Republicans to have a female or non-white male on the ballot. She’s very appealing to the Republican Party’s more conservative base. She would add some strength to that part of the ticket.”
The idea that Republicans should run a woman alongside whoever wins their party's primary is what led John McCain to pluck Sarah Palin from Alaskan obscurity. The thought was that she would offer an alternative to those female voters who had been denied Hillary Clinton as a candidate when she lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama. That plan backfired.
— Conservative Belle (@StricklandCindy) July 5, 2015
Nikki Haley has caught the eye of the American public for her candor and honesty about the Rebel flag. But she still has allegations of marital infidelity that get joked about in South Carolina, and which investigative journalists are sure to mine. As a running mate, she may have limited utility.
— Jennifer (@jpeery59) February 17, 2013
— mike forte (@oscalope) January 30, 2015
But she also is governor of a state that many in the GOP see as crucial to win if they hope to secure their party's primary victory. For many years, South Carolina held the claim that, whichever GOP primary candidate won their state always went on to win the primary.
That streak came to a grinding halt when Newt Gingrich won South Carolina in 2012, but lost the primary. Nevertheless, Nikki Haley could be a powerful ally in her state for any of the GOP hopefuls in the primary race.
— Aklam (@AklamJor) July 4, 2015
Two sign affidavits saying they had affair with Nikki Haley, but Haley won't bite (Updated) http://t.co/7zQRJd0L4N
— Dave McW (@DaveMc99TA) June 23, 2015