GOVERNOR’S NASCENT VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS ALL OVER THE MAP …
“You know sometimes words have two meanings,” Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant crooned in the band’s famous power ballad “Stairway to Heaven.”
He added “there are two paths you can go by,” and “in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
And yes … it made him wonder.
Obviously we know (intimately) that S.C. governor Nikki Haley is more of a fan of John Mayer‘s music, but she did follow Plant’s advice this week … or at least she tried to.
Here’s how Haley’s long and winding road began: In the intensifying battle between the “Republican” establishment and the GOP electorate – Haley came down squarely on the side of the status quo this week. In her high-profile response to U.S. president Barack Obama‘s final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, Haley explicitly criticized GOP frontrunner Donald Trump (and his supporters) – drawing considerable ire from the GOP’s conservative base.
Haley basically came off as another Obama – essentially telling all of those voters who are frustrated with the direction of the country to simmer down. In fact, she went so far as to associate their anger with the sort of violent hate that inspired last spring’s murderous rampage in Charleston, S.C. – brutal slayings perpetrated by a white supremacist.
Haley’s “tone it down, people” remarks won plaudits from the Beltway insiders, as expected, but earned deserved scorn from those of us who are legitimately frustrated with Washington’s bipartisan boondoggling.
Faced with growing negative fallout from her remarks, did Haley stand firm in her convictions? No … she waffled. Backtracked. Walked back.
And poorly, at that …
First of all, Haley – who is having all sorts of problems remaining consistent on the immigration issue herself – blasted the ever-evolving position of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio regarding mass amnesty.
“Marco Rubio believes in amnesty, which I don’t,” Haley said.
That criticism came as a surprise to many seeing as Haley previously told reporters she and Rubio were in frequent contact, and that he was “supportive” of her attack on Trump – and “appreciated” what she was doing. It was even more surprising seeing as Haley’s big national speech was viewed by many as an establishment payoff for an eventual Rubio endorsement.
Haley made her negative remarks about Rubio and amnesty at around 3:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday of this week. A little over four hours later, she flip-flopped.
“(Rubio) is not for amnesty, but I was against his Gang of Eight bill,” she told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “What I said was that I didn’t agree with him – I meant – what I didn’t agree with him was on the Gang of Eight bill. I said that he wasn’t for amnesty – that’s not what I meant – what I meant was that he supported the Gang of Eight bill and I did not.”
Here’s the full segment …
(Click to play)
Haley also missed the mark in attempting to counter Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to America.
“When you’ve got immigrants who are coming here legally, we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion,” Haley said. “Let’s not start that now.”
That’s not true, though.
Numerous race-based immigration restrictions were passed in the aftermath of World War I, and during the peak of the Iran hostage crisis former U.S. president Jimmy Carter proposed a ban on the immigration of Shiite Muslims.
Left-leaning websites were eager to give Haley the benefit of the doubt, though.
“Haley can be forgiven for not knowing about this or other examples of restrictive immigration laws,” Kevin Drum of the liberal website Mother Jones wrote. “It’s not especially common knowledge these days. In any case, she obviously wasn’t pretending that Jim Crow and its ilk never existed.”
Drum added that Haley’s misstep was “hardly a big deal” because she was “doing the Lord’s work, criticizing Donald Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the country.”
Not all “progressives” were so understanding, though.
“Taken together, politicians have had smoother introductions to the national stage,” left-leaning pundit Steve Benen wrote for MSNBC. “Over the course of about 12 hours, Nikki Haley managed to divide her own party, blast some of her allies, clumsily walk back the criticisms, and misstate the details of immigration policy she claims to understand.”
Ouch. Benen added that Haley “probably didn’t do herself any favors” with GOP candidates and party officials who were “watching closely” to see how she fared under the glare of the national spotlight.
In addition to her Rubio misstep, Haley “didn’t do herself any favors” with the campaign of another establishment “Republican.”
In further attempting to distance herself from the mushy middle of the GOP she so wildly embraced earlier this week, Haley took after former Florida governor Jeb Bush for his support of the federal government’s Common Core academic standards.
“Jeb Bush passed Common Core,” Haley told reporters, citing it as one of the “disagreements” she has with establishment candidates.
Really? Has anyone bothered to look at the governor’s recently unveiled education plan?
Anyway, Haley walked back that attack, too …
“Governor Bush, he supported Common Core, certainly didn’t pass it, but supported it,” she later told Van Susteren.
Bush backers were not appeased … at all.
“How about all of her waffling and walking back everything she said?” one of Bush’s top South Carolina advisors told us. “When you walk back everything that was worth saying you basically negate the people you pleased and don’t satisfy the people you pissed off.”
Welcome to the veepstakes, Nikki Haley.