South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the darling of the Tea Party that helped catapult her into the Governor’s mansion in 2010, has announced her endorsement of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. She announced the endorsement on Fox and Friends this morning. “Today is the day that I’m throwing all of my support behind Mitt Romney for president,” Governor Haley said, speaking from South Carolina. She added, “Now more than ever, we need someone who has the leadership to deal with a broken Washington.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign responded to the endorsement by releasing an email saying, “It is an honor to have the endorsement of Governor Haley. As a successful businesswoman who entered public service so government could better serve the people, Governor Haley’s career-long efforts to reform government, make government more accountable to the taxpayers, and fight wasteful spending should be examples for leaders across the country. These conservative principles of smaller government are what I am fighting for in my campaign and will be the basis for restoring economic prosperity and fiscal health.”
This is not the first time Governor Haley has endorsed Romney. She served as Romney’s state co-chair for his presidential run in 2008. Romney came in fourth that year behind winner John McCain, runner-up Mike Huckabee, and third place finisher and Huckabee spoiler Fred Thompson.
Governor Romney is certainly counting on Governor Haley’s endorsement to give him a boost heading into South Carolina. But though coveted, Haley’s endorsement may not be the igniter the Romney campaign hopes. According to a recent poll conducted by Winthrop University, Haley’s overall approval rating, which was stratospheric right after her election, has dropped to 34 percent. Among Republicans, Haley has dropped from a 69 percent approval just three months ago to a slim majority at 52%. Almost 22 percent of Republicans now disapprove of her performance.
Governor Haley’s endorsement is sure to raise the eyebrows of Tea Party supporters who fueled Haley’s meteoric rise from obscurity to the Republican nomination in 2010. Haley was polling a distant fourth when national Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin rode into town and endorsed her for governor. Haley shot to the top of the pack and never looked back as Tea Party supporters flocked to her side.
The question is how can someone who owes her political success to the Tea Party endorse the Republican establishment candidate for president? Maybe she is simply following the example of Palin who turned her back on the Tea Party opponent in the 2010 Arizona Republican Senatorial primary to endorse John McCain, another favorite of the Republican establishment. I guess the acorn really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Haley said Romney “is not a creature of Washington.” That may be true but it raises the question, “What kind of creature is Romney.” A chameleon comes to mind since Romney, more than any other politician I can think of, seems to be able to take on whatever political position that may be needed for the moment. Running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney declared his support for abortion and same-sex marriage. As governor of Massachusetts, he helped usher in a state mandated healthcare system that became a model for Obamacare. He now says his plan was crafted for Massachusetts only and if elected president he would immediately grant waivers of exemption to every state including South Carolina. One must consider the irony that Massachusetts could gain an exemption from Obamacare and still have a mandated healthcare system devised by the person who grants them immunity from the national version.
With Haley’s endorsement, Romney can now boast at least three Tea Party leaders who have hitched their wagon to his strange brand of conservatism. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell have also endorsed Romney for president.