Politics & Government

Nikki Haley the 'Clemson girl' a rarity among governors

COLUMBIA --Nikki Haley is an oddity among S.C. governors for more than just her gender.

She's also the first Clemson graduate in the office in more than half a century.

The last was Strom Thurmond, who graduated from then-Clemson College. And while former Gov. David Beasley attended Clemson, he ultimately graduated from USC.

Being a gubernatorial standout doesn't bother Haley. The Lexington Republican has no problems letting everyone know she bleeds orange.

"I love all of our colleges here in South Carolina, but I'm a Clemson girl at heart," Haley said in an interview last week.

She's predicting a win for her Tigers in Saturday's matchup against the University of South Carolina in Columbia. "I think they win by 10," she said, adding she expects them to win the ACC championship in Charlotte, too.

But former Gov. Jim Hodges, a Columbia Democrat and USC graduate, predicts the Gamecocks will win "a close game" despite a series of injuries.

"They're playing at home," said Hodges, a USC season-ticket holder. "That's worth three or four points."

It's not that Haley, a 1994 Clemson graduate, doesn't like USC. In fact, she sometimes roots for the Gamecocks and attends home games. "If (USC) is ever playing anyone other than Clemson, it's easy to root for USC," she said.

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