With the end of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sought in her Republican Party response to turn the page on his presidency and look towards the future -– one she said would be brighter under a Republican president.
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“Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight,” she said, speaking from the capital city of Columbia.
Haley said she understood that voters are frustrated with government, but added that Republicans must take some responsibility for that frustration as well as Democrats –- and channel it into meaningful action.
“There is more than enough blame to go around. We as Republicans need to own that truth,” Haley, South Carolina’s first female, non-white governor, said. “We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken. And then we need to fix it.”
Haley, who noted that she is the daughter of immigrants, also sought to emphasize that the GOP is inclusive of all Americans, making what was perhaps a veiled reference to the more heated comments coming from some Republican candidates and lawmakers about Muslims and other immigrants.
“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” she said, speaking from the South Carolina statehouse.
But she did note that Republicans do not believe in “flat out open[ing] our borders.” She also said that the United States shouldn’t admit any refugees with unclear intentions, which has led to some congressional Republicans effectively calling for a pause in the Obama administration’s program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Haley, who gained national praise for her handling of the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Charleston church, said her party –- and all Americans -– should take a cue from how her state responded to the tragedy, noting that they embraced one another rather than assail each other’s race and religion.
She also referenced the removal of the Confederate flag from near the statehouse –- a move Haley championed which earned her bipartisan praise nationwide.
“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him,” she said, saying that action represents an important lesson.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”
While her speech focused on the kind of party the GOP should strive to be, she also stressed the party’s chief principles, including strong Second Amendment rights, lower taxes and an end to the Affordable Care Act – the types of specific policies the Republican Party would pursue under new leadership.
“As we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs,” she said.