SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR TAPPED BY CONGRESSIONAL “REPUBLICAN” LEADERS
The political rehabilitation of S.C. governor Nikki Haley continued this week when her office announced that she would deliver the “Republican” response to U.S. president Barack Obama‘s 2016 State of the Union address on January 12.
Liberal “Republican” leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell (a.k.a. these guys) extended the invitation to Haley – who accepted her highest profile national address since she appeared in prime time at the 2012 “Republican” national convention.
Nevertheless, the decision is the latest national elevation for Haley … whose vice presidential ambitions have waxed and waned in recent years.
Palmetto politicos viewed the announcement as a clear sign that Haley’s national star was once again on the rise.
“Can we say ‘Hello, governor McMaster?'” one South Carolina political insider noted, referring to the state’s lieutenant governor Henry McMaster – who would take over for Haley in the event she were to leave office early for a national position.
Haley has previously said she would serve out her second term, however she has long coveted a vice-presidential nomination from one of the establishment “Republican” candidates currently seeking the GOP presidential nod.
The only question? Whether she can survive the vetting process.
Well, that and whether the last establishment candidate standing – Marco Rubio – is Haley’s friend or foe.
Those vetting concerns – widely discussed last summer on the national level – quieted somewhat in the aftermath of Haley’s corporate-driven, insta-conversion on the Confederate flag. But they haven’t vanished.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst delivered last year’s State of the Union response – delivered in the aftermath of the GOP winning “control” of the U.S. Senate.
“We heard the message you sent in November – loud and clear,” Ernst said. “And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.”
Did that happen?
Viewership of the State of the Union has declined precipitously in recent years – even as the U.S. population has grown. Only 31.7 million people watched last year’s address, down from 52.4 million viewers in 2009. And while giving the GOP response to the speech is considered an honor – it’s also not exactly a job “Republicans” in Washington covet.
“It’s almost like the kiss of death to get picked to do the Republican response,” a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution told CNN recently. “It represents an amazing opportunity to catapult yourself into the national conversation, but the risk is huge and the success rate has been minimal at best in recent years.”