Nikki Haley Challenging Donald Trump 'Took Courage,' White House Says

White House spokesman says the South Carolina governor "deserves credit"

“Her willingness to stand up and speak out against that took some courage, and it was rather conspicuous given the willingness of a lot of other leading Republicans to either ignore it or to try to sweep it under the rug. And in some cases we’ve seen leading Republicans been totally co-opted by it,” he added.

Earnest said the White House still won’t agree with Haley on all issues, but added “her willingness to stand up for some important principles was noted and it took courage, and for that she deserves credit.”

“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” Haley said.

Her speech came shortly after President Obama took his own veiled swipe at Trump in the State of the Union when he warned of "voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background."

In a phone interview with MSNBC Wednesday, Trump came out swinging against Haley, saying she was “weak on immigration” and arguing he’s not worried he made an enemy out of the governor of an early primary state.

“South Carolina is one of my strongest states,” he said.