Tea party favorite Nikki Haley is running for governor of South Carolina, but in the final debate of the campaign, she portrayed her campaign as a crusade against President Obama.
“This is about saying no to Obamacare, no to mandatory healthcare that we can’t sustain," said Haley, "and saying yes to a governor that will fight that every step of the way all the way to the Supreme Court." In her closing statement she promised to say "no to stimulus and bailouts we don't need" and refuse "federal tax packages that only run up unemployment and raise the debt."
Her Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen, quipped that Haley was trying to “run for governor of the United States.”
He tried to link Haley to outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, whose mysterious disappearance to South America to meet a mistress made national headlines before wrecking the once up-and-coming Republican's marriage and political career. Sheheen also criticized Haley's focus on national issues.
“I’m not looking for a movement,” he said. “I’m finally looking for a governor.”
Haley, a relatively obscure state legislator until a few months ago, is one of the most prominent beneficiaries of the rise of the tea party and the popularity of Sarah Palin. Backing from the conservative insurgency and the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate helped vault her over better-funded and more experienced party rivals to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
But Sheheen, a state senator, has made it a race in the overwhelmingly Republican state.
After the two candidates completed their statements concluding the debate, the moderator asked them one final question: whether they liked each other.
Sheheen responded “yes.”
Said Haley: “I used to.”
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