Nikki Haley Says Health Care Will Remain Issue For Romney

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Haley also warned that any personal smear campaigns that distract from talking about issues -- a problem in recent South Carolina presidential primaries -- would not be tolerated in 2012.

"The second a political consultant tries to play dirty tricks, it will backfire and it will hurt that candidate," Haley said. "And so my warning to every candidate coming into South Carolina is come in, talk about the issues, that's what we want to hear about, but the distractions are not welcome in South Carolina."

Haley added that she found real estate tycoon Donald Trump's profanity-ridden speech in Las Vegas last month would not hold up in her home state.

"That is not appropriate in South Carolina," Haley said. "We will give all of our candidates respect, and we certainly expect our candidates to come in and give the people of South Carolina respect."

Haley wasn't certain whether former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who supported Haley in 2010, would enter the 2012 presidential race, but praised her for "getting people to know the power of their voice."

"I think that she woke up a lot of people in our country that just really thought that government was a waste of time and she got them to care again," Haley said. "And for that, I think that there will always be a place for her."

Battle Over Boeing

Haley hopes that the presidential campaign focuses on issues as GOP and that candidates lay out specifics on their positions, particularly in contrast to President Obama.

"Of course, everybody's going to talk about what President Obama did wrong. What I'm saying is let's also talk about what we would do differently," Haley said. "That is what's going to make sure that we have a great policy debate in this presidential, and I think every candidate's prepared to do that. It's an exciting time."

In recent weeks, Haley has pushed potential presidential candidates to weigh in on a policy battle brewing in South Carolina over unions. A recent complaint by the National Labor Relations Board claims that aircraft manufacturer Boeing decided to build a new assembly line in South Carolina instead of Washington state because of her state's non-union policies.

"I think that the Republican candidates are coming out strongly and saying there was a time and place for labor unions. That time is not now," Haley said. "This affects every right-to-work state and every non right-to-work state in the country. If the government can now start dictating where a company can and can't create jobs, God help us all."

Haley challenged President Obama to also address the issue, which she believes will influence the presidential contest in her pivotal primary state.

"I'll tell you what I'm not hearing is anything from President Obama and he is a candidate," Haley added. "He has yet to say what he's going to do about the NLRB. He has yet to say whether he thinks it's wrong that they are now making decisions on where companies can and can't create jobs."

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