I had the opportunity to speak with South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley the other day. Rather than subject you to my stammering and verbal tics, I've summarized the call below, with transcribed quotes as appropriate, and three longer ones highlighted.
Bottom line: State Representative Haley is a candidate that anyone interested in fiscal reform should take a good look at. The interview did not go overly into social issues, but her views on life and family issues appear solid. Her donation page is here; Facebook group, here; and official stance on issues, here.
On her background:
Nikki Haley was born and raised in Bamberg, a small (population 2,500) town in South Carolina: "we learned accountability & responsibility early, because the second we thought about doing something wrong, someone was already calling and telling our mom." She's a second-generation Indian-American with a public school education and an accounting degree from Clemson University, which she later used to help improve and expand her parents' family business. She is married, with two children: her husband is in the Army National Guard.
"I am the daughter of two immigrant parents who came here with eight dollars in their pocket that never let us forget what a blessing it is to live in this country: I'm the sister of a man who fought in Desert Storm and I remember what it was like to wonder if he would come home; I'm the wife of a husband in the military who loves his job; I'm the mother of two children who attend public schools and I wonder what their lives are going to be like when they grow up; and I'm a legislator who knows what good government can look like, and I want people to know what it feels like."
Her first election and her state legislature career:
When asked why she ran for the state legislature in 2004, Rep. Haley responded "I just didn't know any better." She credits her parents with encouraging in her an attitude that problems needed to be fixed, not just complained about - even when it meant running against a 30-year incumbent. Fortunately for her, she had not realized the difficulties involved in that until after she had won. Her major initiatives in the state legislature since then have involved good government/transparency issues, particularly in pushing for ensuring that votes are done on the record.
The major issues for the race:
Some of the challenges that Rep. Haley considers important are: South Carolina's education ranking (low, and coupled with high spending); high unemployment; economic development, particularly for small businesses; and following through on Governor Sanford's current cutting of wasteful spending. She fully agrees with the Governor's stance that the 700 million available via the 'stimulus' should be used for debt reduction; "historically we've seen that bailouts and stimulus packages don't work." Rep. Haley was also against the federal 'stimulus' package in the first place; she "loves" the idea of the Tea Parties, and will be attending the one on July Fourth. When asked if she would be getting Governor Sanford's endorsement in the primary, Rep Haley replied "I certainly hope so." She gives him full credit for predicting the current economic problems.
"People have to get involved in their government again. They have to understand that we can't go back to good government unless their voices are heard. Because I know they're angry and I know they're frustrated: what they need to understand is that we've got some good people out there working to do that. But we need their voices to have our backs so that when we get out there and do this, it resonates."
What she bases her conservatism on:
"Basically what defines me is I'm always someone who has appreciated and knows the value of a dollar." While Rep. Haley made it clear that she identifies as pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and pro-family, speaking with her it's clear that she very solidly identifies as being part of the fiscal conservatism wing of the party. "Government is not supposed to be intrusive in the lives of the people."
"Republicans have, for several years - they've learned the talking points, they're going out and they're preaching it to their constituencies, but they never learned the actions associated with those talking points. We need to go back to the core functions of government; government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was not intended to be all things for all people."
Crossposted to Moe Lane.