Prominent South Carolinians quickly responded to Wednesday’s news Gov. Nikki Haley will be named ambassador to the United Nations by President-Elect Donald Trump.
“Governor Haley’s appointment shows how far our state has come and how far our nation can go in the 21st century,” said Matt Moore, chairman of the S.C. Republican Party. “I couldn’t be more proud that the whole world will get to see Nikki Haley’s strong, compasssionate leadership in action.”
“It’s a great day to be an American,” Moore said.
Jaime Harrison, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party who is also a candidate for the chair of the Democratic National Committee, congratulated Haley on the appointment, while noting she will have to learn foreign policy quickly.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be named an ambassador,” Harrison said. “She’s going to face a steep learning curve. She has to learn about different nations and their history with the United States, so I hope she will work with (former UN Ambassador Susan) Rice and (current U.N. Ambassador Samantha) Power.”
South Carolina’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, will be expected to vote for Haley’s confirmation when her nomination comes to the U.S. Senate.
“As Governor of South Carolina she has recruited and dealt with some of the largest international business firms in the world,” Graham said in a statement. “Her husband was a member of the South Carolina National Guard who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Governor Haley and her family fully understand what is at stake in the war against radical Islam.”
“I know she will be a valuable ally to President-elect Trump as our nation tries to reengage the world and lead from the front, not behind.”
Bakari Sellers, the former Democratic state representative and lieutenant governor candidate, said Haley would be “going into the job with the least experience of any U.N. ambassador in the history of the U.S.,” but also said the governor is a “statesman” who is “more than competent” to take on the position.
“Count me as someone who has really low expectations for Donald Trump,” Sellers said. “We’re praising people he nominates just for not being xenophobic.”
“She’s going to balance Trump out,” he said. “She does not want to start World War III, and Trump might start World War III by accident.”
Haley’s pastor, the Rev. Jeff Kersey at Lexington’s Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church, said Haley is prayerful, thoughtful and compassionate.
“I think God’s hand is upon her...,” Kersey said. “She has a chance to change the world through serving there. I think her experience with the flooding and the Charleston church shooting have all prepared her to solve problems on a bigger scale.”
“When you walk through our church’s door, there’s a statement there that you are ‘Now Entering the Mission Field,’” Kersey said. “I think she’s going to represent the church, Lexington and South Carolina well.”
S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas commended Haley’s “distinguished service” as governor and as a member of the Legislature.
“President-Elect Trump has made a tremendous and most capable choice by selecting our Governor to represent the United States in the international community,” Lucas said. “I congratulate UN Ambassador Haley and am confident she will excel in this new impressive endeavor.”
Other state leaders offered similar praise.
“She’s proven over the last six years that she has the ability to take on any job that’s given to her,” said Rep. Rick Quinn, a long-time Haley ally in the legislature.
Quinn added Haley has spent a great deal of time abroad on economic development trips for South Carolina.
“She’s been out there around the world bringing jobs to South Carolina, so she has a lot international experience,” Quinn said. “I think she’ll be successful at it.”
South Carolina’s other senator, Tim Scott, said Haley has been a “tremendous leader” in South Carolina, which is “grateful” for her service to the state.
“I have no doubt she will serve America well through defending and sharing our values and strengthening our relationships with Israel and other allies,” Scott said. “I look forward to her confirmation process.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who represents South Carolina’s 2nd District and is a member of the House foreign affairs committee, said he looks forward to working with Haley in the future.
“Governor Nikki Haley would be a strong and effective voice for America as our Ambassador to the United Nations, an often hostile environment,” Wilson said in a statement. “Her fortitude for freedom and democracy will prevail over constant attacks on America and our ally, Israel.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan of the Upstate’s 3rd District, who also serves on the foreign affairs committee, said Haley’s usccess recruiting foreign businesses such as Boeing, BMW, Michelin and Volvo.
“Nikki Haley has had to think globally from her first day in office,” he said. “She’s traveled the world to encourage businesses to relocate to South Carolina, and in the process has proven herself to be a skilled negotiator.”
“President-Elect Trump’s decision to select Governor Nikki Haley to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations shows his commitment to build a team that is deep in talent and rich in diversity,” Duncan said.
The S.C. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that Haley’s “leadership and ability to solve problems will serve our country and world well.”
“The State Chamber of Commerce thanks the Governor for the past six years which have been the best years of job and business growth the Palmetto State has ever experienced. Governor Haley has truly been the ‘Jobs Governor’ and has made the Palmetto State one of the best places to do business in the world. Her leadership will be missed.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the lone Democrat in South Carolina’s congressional delegation, also congratulated Haley on Twitter.
Haley had been in line to become chairman of the Republican Governors Association beginning in 2018, after she was named vice chair of the organization last week. The current chairman, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, praised Trump’s choice.
“As governor, Nikki Haley has done an extraordinary job by delivering results for the people of South Carolina, and as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, she will absolutely deliver results for the American people,” Walker said. “The RGA congratulates Governor Haley on her selection and we’re excited to see her represent America on the world stage.”
Former SC Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson said Haley’s nomination reflected well on her job in South Carolina.
“This is comparable to when former governor Jim Edwards served as energy secretary under Ronald Reagan... or (former S.C. commerce secretary) Bob Royall’s time as ambassador to Tanzania, or (former S.C. House speaker) David Wilkins as ambassador to Canada,” Dawson said. “It’s indicative of the great job she’s done in South Carolina in meeting our state’s needs, aspirations, hopes and dreams.”
State reporter Cynthia Roldán contributed.