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Nikki Haley | Sarah Palin | endorsement

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley says she doesn’t owe Sarah Palin a thing … not even after the former Alaska governor’s 2010 endorsement propelled Haley’s gubernatorial campaign to front-runner status in the Palmetto state.

“I have not in any way endorsed, plan on endorsing at this point in time at all,” Haley told ABC News on Monday when asked if she would support Palin in 2012. “There’s no one that I feel like I owe at this time.”

“When right time comes, I will endorse,” Haley added.

Not only did Palin lend Haley her endorsement at a key point in Haley’s 2010 campaign, but the former GOP vice presidential nominee also mounted an aggressive defense of Haley’s virtue after she was accused of having an extramarital affair.

“South Carolina friends, don’t let ’em just make things up,” Palin said at the time.

Of course Haley is also heavily indebted to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, under whose leadership the Republican Governors Association spent $900,000 to ensure Haley’s less-than-impressive win over Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen.

She also has swapped endorsements in the past with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In fact, Romney endorsed Haley two months before Palin did – although his support obviously did little to move the masses.

Speaking of GOP governors supporting her 2010 candidacy, sources tell FITS that Haley has yet to thank former Gov. Mark Sanford for the game-changing independent expenditure that he authorized from one of his political organizations last spring – money that actually put her in a position to receive Palin’s endorsement.

In a closed door meeting with Sanford last May, Haley reportedly told her predecessor that without the investment her campaign was finished – probably an accurate assessment.

One month before S.C. GOP primary voters cast their ballots last June, internal polling from several GOP campaigns showed Haley in last place in the four-way Republican race. That’s when ReformSC – a 501(c)4 organization that formed in 2008 to advance Sanford’s legislative reforms – dumped $400,000 into a television ad introducing Haley to South Carolina voters.

Sources tell FITS that Sanford struggled with his decision to authorize this expenditure – which not only gave Haley a sorely-needed boost in the polls but also allowed her to achieve financial parity with her well-funded, status quo opponents. At that point in the race, our source says, Sanford wasn’t entertaining any ideological doubts about Haley – but he did feel that her campaign hadn’t done anything to warrant the investment.

Since then, however, we’re told that Sanford has come to regret supported Haley financially based on her ideological shift to the center of the state’s political spectrum.

Having spent three years breathlessly promoting Haley on this website, we “second that emotion …”

Obviously Haley can (and should) endorse whoever she wants for president – although it’s a pretty lame field if you ask us. Also, in her defense nothing she said on Monday differs in any way from her previous comments regarding her 2012 endorsement.

It’s just interesting to note that loyalty appears to be a one-way street with her …

Assuming South Carolina is able to fend off Florida and keep its early primary date, the early favorite to win the Palmetto state is Mike Huckabee – who finished second here in 2008.

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