Nikki’s Big Night
GOVERNOR DELIVERS WELL-RECEIVED SPEECH TO REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley made the most of her big moment on the national stage this week – delivering a rousing, well-received address to the assembled delegates at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The governor needed a big night, too, as the one-time vice presidential contender has seen her national prospects wane in recent months.
In fact a recent article in The Politico that speculated on key players in a hypothetical Republican administration did not even mention Haley.
Now … was Haley’s speech as good as some are making it out to be? No. And more importantly, was it worth the price South Carolina paid in order for her to have the opportunity? Hell no …
But the fact remains Haley acquitted herself well during the nine minute address, nimbly mixing self-promotion, scorn for U.S. President Barack Obama and praise for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, whom she endorsed prior to the Palmetto State’s “First in the South” presidential primary.
“The hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration, this president,” Haley told the crowd. “These past few years – you can work hard, try to be as successful as possible, follow the rules, and President Barack Obama will do everything he can to stand in your way.”
That’s true …
(To watch/ read Haley’s speech for yourself, click here).
Haley’s speech served up two large slabs of red meat to activist Republicans – South Carolina’s new voter ID law and the recent fight between aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“We said in South Carolina that if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed and you have to show a picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show a picture ID to protect one of the most valuable, most central, most sacred rights we are blessed with in America – the right to vote,” Haley said. “And what happened? President Obama stopped us.”
If that line sounds familiar, it should … S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has been using it for months, although we remain unconvinced that this law was remotely necessary (or remotely worth the trouble it’s causing us).
Nonetheless GOP activists love voter ID, and they positively ate up Haley’s rhetoric.
The governor got her biggest applause lines of the night, though, when she offered up her views on Boeing’s battle with Obama’s NLRB.
“Boeing started a new line for their 787 Dreamliner, creating 1,000 new jobs in South Carolina, giving our state a shot in the arm when we truly needed it,” Haley said. “And what did President Obama and his National Labor Relations Board do? They sued this iconic American company. It was shameful. And not worthy of the promise of America.”
That’s true … although the fight over Boeing was clouded by the fact that the company relies extensively on billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies doled out from both the state and federal governments.
And while Haley claimed victory on behalf of Boeing (“we won,” she told the crowd), the truth regarding the resolution of this dispute is far less cut and dried.
As we noted in this extensive report, Boeing completely caved to the NLRB’s threat – agreeing to a new labor deal that included a promise to produce none of its new 737 MAX planes (and no more than 30 percent of its Dreamliners) in South Carolina.
How is that a “win?” Particularly in light of the Dreamliner’s ongoing production problems?
“This was a shakedown of a company that’s deeply indebted to the federal government – and at the end of the day, the company caved in a manner that is likely to adversely impact our state,” we wrote of the Boeing deal.
Of course you can probably count the number of GOP convention-goers (and national reporters) who understand all of that on one hand … which is why reaction to Haley’s speech was almost exclusively positive.
Reporter Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post pegged Haley as one of the “winners” from the first night of the GOP convention.
“Of all the men and women touted as rising stars within the GOP who took the stage on Tuesday, the governor of South Carolina was the best,” Cillizza wrote. “She was poised and relaxed and drew the crowd to their feet with her mentions of the Palmetto State?s voter ID law and the National Labor Relations Board fight.”
Haley’s speech was also a big hit with the home crowd.
“When that ball cleared the fence, it was still rising!” one South Carolina business leader told us.
The speech also reminded one former Haley ally of the governor’s potential.
“She did a great job and it engenders pride to have your (governor) perform well on a national stage,” the ex-ally said. “It makes local politics feel small and, for just a minute, (we) recognize that it is cool that she is there and that a different governor could not have pulled it off.”
Even Haley’s adversaries in the S.C. General Assembly acknowledged that she rose to the occasion.
“I”ll give her this – it wasn’t bad, and it was full of applause lines for the activist homers,” said a Republican legislative strategist.
No matter how well Haley did, though, the fact remains that there will always be a cloud of suspicion hanging over her remarks – which are widely suspected to be the payoff for a flagrant betrayal of our state’s economic interests (a.k.a. the “Savannah River Sellout”). Specifically, Haley is believed to have been offered this coveted slot last November by Alec L. Poitevint, the chairman of the Georgia State Ports Authority and a powerful Republican national committeeman in exchange for her advocacy on behalf of Georgia’s port expansion plans.
In February 2011 Poitevint was named chairman of the convention’s “Committee on Arrangements” – a role that gave him the power to determine which aspiring GOP politicians received these coveted speaking slots.
As FITS reported exclusively last November, Poitevint was said to have been in negotiations with Haley and her Maryland-based political consultant Jon Lerner regarding one of these slots. In fact on the same day our report was published, Haley’s appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) reversed their prior environmental objections and decided to grant the state of Georgia a permit to dredge the Savannah River.
What did you think of Haley’s speech? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …
Pic: via Daylife