SC Gov. Haley to hit the campaign trail for Romney

09/09/2012 12:00 AM

09/08/2012 10:25 PM

Gov. Nikki Haley will balance her time between governing South Carolina and stumping for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney over the next two months.

Haley’s target audience? Women voters, a critical voting bloc for Romney because of polls that show women favor incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama by a double-digit margin.

“Governor Haley has a very full schedule of job creation and economic development meetings and events in the next two months,” said Rob Godfrey, Haley’s spokesman. “But as much as her schedule permits, she does plan on helping the Romney-Ryan ticket. ...

“Governor Haley recognizes that one of the biggest things holding back South Carolina’s economy are the anti-business, anti-jobs policies coming from President Obama.”

Democrats scoff at that reasoning as overblown partisanship, at best. But that won’t keep Haley off the road for Romney and Ryan.

Since endorsing the former Massachusetts governor in December, Haley has stumped for Romney in a handful of states. She appeared with him in the Palmetto State, leading up to the state’s presidential primary, where Republican voters gave the edge to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. She also has traveled to New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Colorado, reaching out to voters on Romney’s behalf.

Haley’s highest-profile gig thus far came late last month at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where she had a prime-time speaking role immediately before an address for Ann Romney, Mitt Romney’s wife.

Last week, Haley and U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, also traveled to Charlotte, holding a series of pro-Romney press conferences just blocks from the site of the Democratic National Convention.

Romney’s campaign, which pays for Haley’s out-of-state trips, plans to use her heavily.

“Nikki Haley is one of the best messengers we have,” said Beth Myers, a senior Romney adviser who asked Haley to speak at the Republican convention and was Romney’s chief of staff while he was Massachusetts governor. “She has experienced firsthand how damaging this president’s policies have been to states and their economies, and no one tells that story to voters better than she does. We’ll use her anywhere and everywhere we can.”

It’s unclear, however, where and when that will be.

The Romney camp does not provide an advance schedule for its campaign surrogates, including Haley.

Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political scientist and pollster, suspects the Romney camp will send Haley to Colorado, Nevada and the Rust Belt states.

“She defies the stereotype of the Republican in the South, that white, good ol’ boy,” Huffmon said. “Her stump speech reinforces that the stereotype is wrong, that she’s a woman, a minority and the country’s youngest governor. She makes the Republican Party look vibrant and dynamic.”

Democrats say Haley is busy playing politics when she should be at home, working to help South Carolinians.

“South Carolina has deep troubles, not only with employment but with our education system and job creation. And she’s just AWOL,” said S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, adding that Haley also is scheduled to go to Japan today for a trade show.

“The problems of South Carolina aren’t going to be solved in Tampa or Charlotte or Tokyo,” Harpootlian said. “She needs to be here in South Carolina. She is clearly planning a career or looking for a career outside of the state.”

Haley has not outlined her future ambitions, other than saying she would not accept a cabinet appointment should Romney win on Nov. 6. However, with about $1 million raised in the most recent quarter, it’s likely the Lexington Republican will seek re-election in 2014.

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