National Press Club

SC Gov. Haley Says GOP Must Change Approach, Scolds Trump for Getting Mad

September 3, 2015 | By Lawrence Feinberg | lfeinber@gmail.com

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at  a Sept. 2, 2015 NPC luncheon event.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a Sept. 2, 2015 NPC luncheon event.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who described herself a conservative Republican, said her party must “change our approach” to blacks and other minorities by listening carefully to their concerns and trying hard to meet them.

At a National Press Club luncheon Wednesday, Haley said the Republican approach “often appears cold and unwelcoming” to minorities even though Republican policies on jobs, education, and healthcare are aimed at “lifting up all people.”

“That is shameful,” she continued, adding, “It’s on us to communicate … in ways that wipe away the clutter of prejudices.”

Responding to a question about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Haley said it “accomplishes nothing to get mad at people who criticize you.” She said Americans “want to send someone to the White House who is calm.” She said voters don’t want a president who might
“get so mad that we really might have a world war.”

Haley, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, said she would not have been elected governor if South Carolina was “a racially intolerant place” and “if [Republicans] were a racially intolerant party.”

“Today there truly is a New South,” she declared. “It is different in many ways, perhaps most especially in its attitudes toward race."

She said she has emphasized attracting jobs and improving education but has also been concerned with “the unfinished goals of the civil rights movement," in particular, that "every person, regardless of their skin color, is treated equally under the law."

Haley contrasted the calm in South Carolina after nine black worshipers were killed in June at a Charleston church with the widespread disorder in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore after incidents involving the deaths of unarmed blacks. She also noted there was no violent response in April after an unarmed black motorist was killed by a white policeman in North Charleston while running away after his car was stopped for having a broken taillight.

After the death of the motorist, Walter Scott, Haley said South Carolina “came together, black and white, Republican and Democrat.

“We communicated constantly,” she said, “with religious leaders, with political leaders, with community leaders.”

She said charges were brought immediately against the police officer and two months later the Republican-controlled legislature passed the nation’s first state law providing body cameras for police.

After the church shootings, Haley said she not only attended the nine funerals and met with victims’ families, but she also pushed for removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol grounds, where the white supremacist shooter had posed before the killings.

“The Statehouse belongs to all people,” she said, “and it needed to be welcoming to all people. That was not possible with that flag flying.

During that debate, she said, “we had legislators who truly listened to each other. They walked in each other’s shoes, and that made all the difference”

The removal of the Confederate flag also brought Haley national prominence and mention as a possible Republican candidate for vice president.

“The party has 16 great presidential candidates so you are going to have 15 great vice-presidential candidates,” Haley said. But she added, “If there is a time that the presidential nominee wants to talk to me, of course, I’m willing to talk to them.”