S.C. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley lumped GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump with rioters in Baltimore when asked Wednesday about asking people not to follow the “angriest voices” in nationally televised address.
Asked Wednesday why Trump’s support from voters continues to grow two weeks after her address, Haley, considered a favorite to make short lists for vice president, said she was referring to multiple groups of people with her “angriest voices” statement — not just Trump.
"If you're going to take in context, talk about all the groups which is whether it's groups that are rioting in Baltimore, whether it's Donald Trump, whether it's those who are wanting to ban a whole religion, whether it's those who are getting upset in a way that they singling out a certain group. That's what we’re talking about,” she said at news conference at the S.C. State House.
“I think what Mr. Trump is doing is continuing to push through this candidacy. I think he's continuing to move forward. All we ask is that everybody stay civil and respectful in the way they do that."
Some protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police vehicle last year turned violent. Hundreds of people were arrested and hundreds of businesses and cars were damaged.
The governor has said she was referring to Trump when said in her State of the Union response this month that, “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”
Asked would having Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the GOP presidential nominee hurt efforts to woo young, women and minority voters, Haley made a pitch Wednesday for expanding the party’s base.
"My goal was coming off after the last election with Mitt Romney (in 2012) was to make sure that I did everything I could to open that umbrella — to make sure we opened it up to Indian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, to make sure Hispanics and women felt a part of the Republican party,” the governor said.
“What I did with the (State of the Union) address was very much start that conversation, which is we need to grow our umbrella. We don't have room to close it,” she continued. “But what I want Republican specifically to do is to remember that we want to grow that tent out. There's a group of Republicans like me, who have seen that we have a great slate of minorities that are in elected office."
Haley, who has not endorsed a 2016 candidate, would not say if she expects Trump to become more civil if he becomes the party’s nominee.
"We'll find out," she said.
Trump’s first reaction to Haley’s comment after the State of the Union was to stay that Haley has a weak record on immigration. But during the GOP presidential debate this month, Trump accepted her description, saying “I was not offended. I said, ‘Huh, she’s right.’ ”
Haley has criticized Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail twice last year, including calling his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country an “embarrassment.”
The New York business mogul contributed $7,000 to Haley’s two gubernatorial runs and $5,000 to a political group with ties to the governor.
Trump speaks in Haley’s home county, Lexington, later Wednesday at a rally at Harmon’s Tree Farm in Gilbert.
Haley did not give a timetable Wednesday for endorsing a presidential candidate. She said she decided in a week to endorse Romney in the 2012 race.
"I don't work like that where I plan really far ahead,” the governor said. “It's usually once I make a decision, I go with it."