Gov. Nikki Haley took to the national stage in Tampa on Tuesday night, highlighting her struggles with the federal government and contending that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the candidate to fix America.
“Sadly, the hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration and this president,” the Lexington Republican said to a packed crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, including the S.C. delegation, which, earlier in the day, cast 24 of its 25 votes for Romney’s nomination.
Haley told the national crowd the story of the National Labor Relations Board suing Boeing for its efforts to open a North Charleston facility.
“We did one of the things we did best in South Carolina. We got loud,” she said. “We’re fighters in South Carolina. And we watched an amazing thing happen. You fought with us, and guess what? We won.”
(Boeing and its labor union later settled the dispute.)
But Haley’s biggest applause came from her oft-repeated phrase that if a photo ID is required to buy Sudafed or step foot on a plane, residents should have to show one to vote.
Last year, Haley signed into law a bill requiring S.C. voters to present a photo ID at the polls. That law now is caught up in a federal lawsuit, with lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups arguing the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the law to suppress the votes of African-Americans, who typically vote Democratic.
Haley told the delegates and a national TV audience that America needs Romney.
“He fixes things,” Haley said. “He takes broken companies and makes them successful,” adding the former Massachusetts governor would do the same for the country, restoring it.
Haley’s national debut came shortly before a speech by Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential nominee.
The governor’s performance, which could launch a national political career, received high marks from S.C. delegates. “It could open a lot of doors,” said former S.C. Gov. David Beasley, the last governor to address the national GOP convention, in 1996.
Haley repeatedly has said she does not have higher political ambitions.
S.C. Democrats were not impressed, criticizing Haley for “playing politics” while the city of Charleston flooded.
Torrential rains caused widespread flooding Tuesday with some areas receiving as much as 8-inches of rain.
“The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are all in their states, making sure their citizens’ property and lives are safe and secure,” said S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian. “Nikki Haley once again proved that politics, not the people of her state, are most important.”