Chances are what you got for Christmas probably didn’t cause as much of a stir as what Gov. Nikki Haley got.
The Palmetto State CEO posted a picture Thursday of the 9 mm Beretta handgun she received from her husband on her Facebook account, which generated a lot of post-holiday buzz.
“Our family had a wonderful Christmas together!” the Lexington Republican wrote. “I must have been good(.) Santa gave me a Beretta Px4 Storm.”
The Facebook post received nearly 15,000 likes and 1,700 comments in less than 10 hours. Social media burst with mini-debates about guns, though a majority of the comments approved Haley’s gift.
Congratulations (“Another reason why I love South Carolina’) were mixed with pleas for gun safety (“I will say a prayer for your family”).
And the 2014 gubernatorial campaign was caught in the line of fire.
“Everything is about politics with her. Everything,” state Democratic Party director Amanda Loveday tweeted.
The governor is familiar with this type of gift.
Haley holds a concealed-weapons permit and a lifetime “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Her husband, Michael, returned recently from a year-long military deployment to Afghanistan.
Plus, the governor fired off machine-gun rounds at a Columbia arms maker this summer in a video sent out by her office that went viral.
Haley’s sharing her love for firearms is a way of demonstrating the state’s gun friendliness to manufacturers, Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan said. South Carolina is wooing arms makers from states with stricter gun laws. Beretta operates a plant in Maryland.
But the gun show also could help lure voters in her rematch against Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen next year.
“It says, ‘Hey, I’m one of you,’ ” Buchanan said. “And subliminally says, ‘Vincent Sheheen is not one of you.’ It could really play well with rural voters.”
Sheheen beat Haley in many rural areas in their 2010 race. Since she was elected, the governor has focused economic-development efforts and work by her foundation in those poorer sections of the state.
Sheheen’s campaign manager, Andrew Whalen, jumped out of the line of fire on Thursday: “We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season with family and friends.”