During her gubernatorial campaign rumors emerged that she had participated in two extra-marital affairs, allegations Haley said were "flat-out lies."
As soon as the stories broke, Haley said she got a call from her friend and supporter Sarah Palin encouraging her to fight.
"It's not just a Nikki issue. It's a Sarah issue," Haley said. "It's a lot of us that go through this. But it is what we sacrifice to bring good government. It's what we sacrifice to change our states and our country."
Haley says she channels her friend Palin's feistiness when under attack by her opponents.
"I wear heels," the South Carolina governor said. "It's not for a fashion statement, it's ... ammunition."
And those campaign fires didn't die after she won the state house. The latest poll numbers show her approval rating is hovering around 35 percent. But Haley is not planning to stop fighting.
She points to the state's improving unemployment rate, which was 12 percent when she was running for office and 10.5 percent when she took over as governor. On Friday it ticked down to 9.1 percent. That's still one percentage point higher than the nation, but Haley was upbeat: "There is more work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction."
She is proud, she said, that since taking office 22,000 new jobs have come to South Carolina.
"We build things in South Carolina now," Haley said. "We build planes. We build cars. We build tires."
Though Haley has closed the door on having her name on the presidential ticket this year, she left it ever so slightly ajar about running for president herself in 2016.
"I don't know -- I mean life has surprised me constantly," Haley said when asked if she'd run in four years. "But that's not anything I can imagine.
"This is what I want to do," the governor added. "So do I want to think about anything in the future? No. Why ruin where I am now?"