Charlotte, SC: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio in his bid to be the nominee of the Republican Party in the upcoming presidential elections. “If we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America,” she said alongside the Florida senator during a rally in suburban Columbia.
Polls suggest Trump continues to hold a big lead in South Carolina and in upcoming states, as Cruz works to rally the Republican Party’s most conservative wing and Rubio tries to consolidate mainstream Republicans behind his candidacy. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich continue to battle for a spot at the table, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson struggles for relevancy.
A highly coveted endorsement from popular Nikki Haley — one Jeb Bush himself had described as “the most powerful, meaningful one in the state” earlier this week — has gone to Rubio. Haley’s endorsement was a major setback for Bush, who said her decision left him “disappointed.”
Nikki Haley, the popular Indian American governor, who is being speculated as a possible US vice presidential candidate, said she was tasked with identifying the best candidate as she surveyed the crowded GOP field.
In her endorsement, Haley said: “I wanted somebody that was going to go and show my parents that the best decision they ever made for their children was coming to America. We say that every day is a great day in South Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, if we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America!” Haley said.
“You know that I always say I am the proud daughter of Indian parents. That reminded us every day how blessed we were to live in this country,” she said in her brief remarks. Haley said she wants a president who is going to have the backs of military veterans and those in active duty.
“I want a president that knows that when we fight wars, we win wars. I want a president that understands we have to stop the federal mandates that have been pushed on the states like Obamacare and the EPA,” she said. In endorsing Rubio, Haley said: “I wanted somebody with fight, somebody with passion, somebody with conviction to do the right thing, but also somebody humble enough to remember you work for all the people.”
“But I want a president who understands that they have to go back to Washington, D.C., and bring a conscience back to our Republicans. Our Republicans need to remember what we are about, which is about balanced budgets, cutting debt, building reserves and making sure that they understand that this guy, he is all about term limits in D.C., and that is what we want to see in a president,” Haley said. “We were excited when we got the word that this was a real possibility,” Rubio said after securing Haley’s endorsement.
“For us and for me, I have said this before, and I would say, despite the endorsement, I would say this: She represents everything I want the Republican Party to be about — fiscal responsibility and a limited federal government. All the things that our government should be about and all the things our party should be about, she embodies,” Rubio said.
Haley is viewed as an asset in a Republican Party that has struggled to appeal to non-white voters. She made a high-profile speech at the National Press Club in September, and in January was picked by congressional leaders to give the Republican response to President Obama’s final State of the Union speech. Her decision to endorse Rubio follows her earlier criticism of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
“Every time someone criticizes him, he goes and makes a political attack back,” Haley said in September. “That is not who we are as Republicans. That’s not what we do. That not what I want my South Carolinians to do.” Haley has also urged her fellow Republicans to celebrate the contributions of legal immigrants, a pointed departure from Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Haley said, electing Rubio would “show my parents the best decision they made for their children was coming to America.”