S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has ruled out endorsing Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign – just days after a prominent Republican critic of Haley’s appeared on the former Utah governor’s fundraising team.
“Naturally, I am going to go with someone that philosophically I agree with, and Jon Huntsman is not it,” Haley said during an interview with radio host Laura Ingraham.
While Haley’s “philosophical beliefs” are open to interpretation – as is the value of her endorsement given her sagging poll numbers – the fact that she took the deliberate step of ruling Huntsman out has many political observers scratching their heads.
For example, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has consistently expressed his disdain for the moderate former U.S. Ambassador to China. Haley, on the other hand, has gone out of her way to praise Huntsman.
In fact, she was positively giddy after chatting him up a few short months ago.
“It was a very impressive conversation and it looks like he’s going to be a serious candidate if he gets in,” Haley told The Huffington Post after meeting Huntsman in her office back in May.
Not only that, she specifically praised Huntsman for his international experience and stated commitment to reducing America’s debt – something she’s lectured Washington about even as she approves record spending increases and multiple bailouts for her cabinet agencies at the state level.
“He was great,” Haley said of Huntsman. “What I loved was his experience that he had in seeing China and how they’re off the charts and running fast and the passion they have for economic development. He knows that we can have that here in the United States. He wants to go and look at the financial aspect of where we are in our country and he understands it’s about reducing the debt.”
Hmmmm … that certainly sounds “philosophically consistent” with where Haley claims she’s coming from.
So what gives? Why the sudden diss?
As we speculated last week, Haley is reportedly furious over the inclusion of former S.C. Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) chairman John Rainey on Huntsman’s fundraising team. The veteran Republican fundraiser – who has called Haley the “most corrupt governor” in South Carolina history, is conducting numerous investigations into Haley’s administration as well as her controversial pre-gubernatorial employment.
He’s already caught Haley in one potentially damaging lie – with sources telling FITS that he has much more up his sleeve.
“There is no more clear and present a danger to Nikki Haley than John Rainey,” one GOP source told us recently.
While we’d like to think that a sitting governor would never make such a major political move based on a political grudge – Haley is proving to be one remarkably vindictive individual (whether it’s dealing with fellow politicians or the press).
Looks like Jon Huntsman just found that out the hard way.
Incidentally, we concur with Haley regarding her stated belief that Huntsman is not an acceptable philosophical choice for the GOP nomination. However, unlike her we’ve said that from the very beginning.
“His record on a whole host of conservative issues is remarkably weak,” we wrote back in February in our initial assessment of the 2012 field.
Pic: via Daylife