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Nikki Haley now not 'furious' at Georgia, apologizes to Peach State governor

02/06/2014 3:46 PM

02/06/2014 9:28 PM

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that she is not "furious" about how Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal handled the winter storm after her brother was stuck on an Atlanta interstate for 27 hours last week.

"This was not me being furious at Georgia," she said. "This was me being furious as a sister not being able to get to her brother. I don't want this to be a state-to-state issue. Gov. Deal did what he thought was best."

Haley called Deal on Thursday and apologized, said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the Georgia governor. Deal accepted her apology.

"They’re good friends and good friends don't hold grudges," Robinson said.

Haley told a reporter on Tuesday that: “While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that."

The comment took off on political websites and among Democrats since one Republican state CEO appeared to be criticizing another.

Robinson answered the initial report by telling an Atlanta newspaper on Wednesday: “To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina. We experienced completely different weather events.”

Asked about Georgia's response, Haley again stressed that she meant no malice toward her neighboring state.

"It was never meant to be a slight to Georgia or Gov. Deal," she said. "I would not do that because every governor goes through their own challenges."

The governor said Thursday that her brother, Mitti, was caught in the storm after flying into the Atlanta airport. He joined thousands of motorists caught on uncleared, congested interstates around the city.

Her brother is diabetic and Haley said she was worried about him not getting food and water.

"I stayed on the phone with him as we were managing South Carolina at the same time," she said.

Her brother eventually was able to walk to a hotel and camp out in the lobby, the governor said.

Haley said she will hold a conference call with S.C. emergency officials on Friday to go over how South Carolina handled the winter blast.

The state experienced few problems, though the Ravenel Bridge, a major connector in Charleston, was closed for nearly two days after icing over.

Rain washed away brine meant to keep ice from forming on the bridge's unique road surface, transportation officials told The State last week.

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Democrat who is running against Haley this year, said this week that the governor should have gone to Charleston during the storm.

"Sheheen's job is to criticize everything I do, and he's doing that well," Haley said.

The storm was first time the nine-year-old Ravenel Bridge had frozen with ice, she said. She defended the decision to close the bridge.

"We did what we needed to do to keep people safe," she said. "We made sure the bridge was closed while we know it wasn't right to get on there. ... I'm a very proud of how Team South Carolina stepped up."

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A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to Follow The Buzz @buzzatthestate. Follow Cassie @cassielcope. Follow Jamie @jamiemself. Follow Andy @andyshain.

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