Two days before taking the national spotlight to deliver a speech before the Republican National Convention, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley urged a room full of women Sunday not to be discouraged as they pursue public service and other leadership roles.
“As we go through life, we have war stories,” Haley told a crowd gathered for “Her New View,” a panel discussion in Tampa put on by The Palladian View, an online magazine founded by Karen Floyd, the immediate past chairwoman of the S.C. Republican Party. “You’re so thankful for them. They make you realize your potential.”
Haley, scheduled to speak at the convention in the 9 p.m. hour Tuesday, and five other women shared their “war stories.”
Haley recounted three that she often repeats during speeches and cited in her memoir, “Can’t Is Not an Option”:
• In her first corporate job, a male executive asked Haley, a new executive, to fetch the chief executive a cup of coffee. Haley buzzed her assistant and asked her to get the coffee. “They never asked me to get a cup of coffee again,” Haley told Sunday’s group.
• During her first S.C. House race, Haley was encouraged by a group of men to exit the race because her opponent was their friend. If she would drop out, the men promised her an unspecified position later on. Haley told the Tampa group that she responded to the men, “I’m not going to get out of the race, but tell your friend he should get out of the race, and I’d be happy to consider him for a position. ... Every one of them (the men who suggested she quit the race) gave me a $1,000 check.”
• S.C. House leaders refused to support Haley’s efforts to get lawmakers to cast more on-the-record votes. Faced with that refusal, Haley told the Tampa group that she persuaded the people of South Carolina to demand the reform. A law requiring more on-the-record votes was one of the first bills she signed into law as governor.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, has said Haley’s version of that story is inaccurate.
Audience members, including Andrea Smithson, a political science major at the University of Southern Florida, said Haley’s story is an inspiration for young women, looking to make a difference in the political world.
“I really loved that conservative women are making a difference and, as Gov. Haley put it, doing it with grace while under fire. It’s amazing,” Smithson said.