Friday, December 16, 2011

Conservative South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorses faux conservative Mitt Romney

By Michael J.W. Stickings

At first glance, it seems somewhat surprising that right-wing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would endorse a faux conservative and shameless opportunist like Romney. Shouldn't she be going for Newt, or perhaps even for a more authentic conservative like Santorum?

Whatever else you want to say about Haley, she seems to be politically savvy in a way that many other young stars in the Republican Party aren't.

The reasoning she gives for her endorsement is that Romney has changed for the better since 2008, when she also backed his bid for the GOP nomination. He's no longer just a candidate, she says, but a leader focused on getting things done. (As opposed to Gingrich, who was just a legislator, she dismissively argues.) And he's promised her that he'd give her state an opt-out from the Affordable Care Act, a not-insignificant pledge for a conservative like Haley given Romney's poisonous association with Obamacare as the original health-care reformer in Massachusetts (hence why so many on the right loathe him).

As for Gingrich, she dismisses him as a worthless legislator and tarnished insider: "I don't want anybody who was involved in anything to do with the chaos that was in Washington," she said, presumably also dismissing Newt's Contract with America.

Plus, she didn't like how Gingrich criticized Republican wunderkind Paul Ryan's Ayn Randian budget plan earlier this year, characterizing it as right-wing social engineering. (Newt recanted, you'll recall, but that obviously wasn't good enough for he, nor for many pro-Ryan fantasists on the right.)

How does this reflect her political savvy? Haley is ambitious and has a bright future in the GOP, possibly at the national level. It may not be now, but it could be 2016. And so she's being careful not to make any mistakes by backing the wrong horse and upsetting the party elite that she herself would need to court for her own presidential run.

Indeed, I suspect that the real reason she doesn't support Newt is that she knows his campaign is a train wreck waiting to happen and prudently thinks better of hopping aboard. This way, if Romney wins the nomination, she'll be seen as one of his most high-profile and important supporters, helping in a key early-primary state. She could be his running mate but even if not she'll have made a good name for herself with the party elite, both politicians and pundits alike, that for the most part is backing Romney and that would perhaps promote her down the road. Were Romney to become president, she's have a close ally in the White House. Were he to lose, she'd be well-positioned to be a major player in 2016, as a serious contender for the nomination or as a top-tier veep pick for someone like Christie or Huntsman.

See? Very savvy. Watch out for Nikki Haley. She could come out of all this Republican madness looking very strong.



Here, watch Haley and the three morning morons on Fox News:

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