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Nikki Haley launches blistering attack on President Obama

August 29, 2012 11:40 IST

The hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration, this president, says South Carolina Governor, Nimrata Randhawa Haley in a prime time speech at GOP Convention. Aziz Haniffa reports.

South Carolina Governor, Nimrata 'Nikki' Randhawa Haley, who was the warm-up act in prime time at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, for Ann Romney the wife of the GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, kicked off her remarks recalling how her Sikh parents moved to the United States from India and built a multi-million dollar business without any help from the government.

Haley, who is close to the Romneys and was among the first of the high profile Republican governors to endorse the former Massachusetts Governor early in the primaries, and was also on the long list of potential vice presidential candidates, in remarks that was punctuated several times by standing ovations, said, "I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every single day how blessed we were to live in this country."

She said her parents, Professor Ajit and Raj Randhawa, "loved the fact that only in America, we could be as successful as we wanted to be and nothing would stand in our way."

Haley recalled, "My parents started a business out of the living room of our home and, 30-plus years later, it was a multimillion dollar company," she added. "But there wasn't a single day that was easy and there wasn't a single day my mom and dad didn't put everything they had into making that business a success."

"So, President Obama, with all due respect, don't tell me that my parents didn't build their business," she said, and declared, "Almost forty-five years after my parents first became Americans, I stand before you and them tonight as the proud Governor of the state of South Carolina."

Haley, thus set the tone for a blistering attack on President Obama for a quote on the campaign trail where he said no one built a business on their own and their success was due to government infrastructure. The quote has continued to plague him and proved to be heady fodder for the Romney campaign and the GOP super-pacs in the anti-Obama ads -- that have become the most popular in their arsenal -- portraying him as anti-business and accusing him of trying to transform America into a socialist state.

The Obama administration has said this quote, has been taken out of context.

Haley, a rising star in GOP circles, who created history by becoming this southern state's first female and Indian American governor -- and a darling of the Tea Party movement -- in perhaps one of the most important speeches in her career reaching an audience of millions on TV, in addition to the several thousands in the sprawling Tampa Bay Forum, however while obviously being used by the organisers as a means to improve Romney's standing among women -- where he trails Obama by double digits -- may have antagonised those looking toward a more humane immigration policy, when she slammed the Obama administration for suing South Carolina over a controversial law seeking to crack down on the children of illegal immigrants.

In her remarks, delivered hours after Romney, 65, was officially nominated as the GOP candidate by a roll call vote when he crossed the threshold of 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination -- and became the first Mormon in the history of the United States to be nominated to run for the presidency -- Haley said, "We build things in the Palmetto State. We build planes. We build cars. We have three of the four largest tire producers in the world and are about to become the number one tire-producing state in the country."

Quoting the conservative Bible, she pointed out, "And not too long ago, 'The Wall Street Journal' said, 'Anyone still thinking the US has lost its manufacturing chops hasn't been to South Carolina.' We have so much potential and so much to be proud of."

Then she began bashing Obama, saying, "Sadly, the hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration, this president."

"As I said, my parents loved that when they came to America; if you worked hard, the only things that could stop you were the limits you placed on yourself. Unfortunately, these past few years, you can work hard, try to be as successful as possible, follow the rules, and President Barack Obama will do everything he can to stand in your way."

Haley noted, "South Carolina recently passed one of the most innovative illegal immigration laws in the country. What did this president who has failed to secure our borders and address this issue in any meaningful way do? He sued us."

"If this president refuses to secure our borders, refuses to protect our citizens from the dangers of illegal immigration, then states have an obligation to take it on ourselves."

Haley then received the biggest applause when she made the case for ID cards for all voters, which Democrats have argued is an attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise minorities, especially African Americans.

She said, "We said in South Carolina that if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed and you have to show a picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show a picture ID to protect one of the most valuable, most central, most sacred rights we are blessed with in America - the right to vote."

"And what happened? President Obama stopped us," she complained."

Haley said the "most unbelievable of them all," was in 2009, when "South Carolina was blessed to welcome a great American company that chose to stay in our country to continue to do business. That company was Boeing."

"Boeing started a new line for their 787 Dreamliner, creating 1,000 new jobs in South Carolina, giving our state a shot in the arm when we truly needed it. At the same time, they expanded their job numbers in Washington state by 2,000. Not a single person was hurt by their decision. Not one."

Haley said however that Obama through his National Labor Relations Board had sued "this iconic American company. It was shameful. And not worthy of the promise of America."

"But we did one of the things we do best in South Carolina -- we got loud. We're fighters in South Carolina, and as we fought we watched an amazing thing happen: you fought with us. And guess what, we won."

Haley recalled how, "A few months ago, I sat on the tarmac at the Boeing facility in North Charleston and watched as a brand new, mac daddy plane rolled onto the runway sporting a 'Made With Pride In South Carolina' decal and surrounded by 6,000 nonunion employees, cheering, smiling and so proud of what they had built."

She asserted that "we deserve a president who won't sacrifice American jobs and American workers to pacify the bullying union bosses he counts as political allies. American businesses deserve a federal government that doesn't stand in their way, not one that tries to chase them overseas."

"And that's why this governor will not stop fighting until we send him home, back to Chicago, and send Mitt and Ann Romney to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," she said.  

Haley said, "I have had the pleasure of knowing Mitt Romney for several years now. There's so much to appreciate about him.  He fixes things. He's results driven."

"He's taken broken companies and made them successful. He took a failing Olympics and made it a source of pride for our country. He went into a Democratic state, cut taxes, brought in jobs and improved education. Oh, and by the way, he actually balanced his budget."

Haley described Romney as "a man at peace with who he is, with the challenges he faces, and with what he intends to accomplish. This is a man who is not just a candidate looking to win an election, but a leader yearning to return our nation to its greatest potential."

"And this is a man who has a silver bullet, his greatest asset, by far, the next first lady of the United States, Ann Romney. Ann is the perfect combination of strength and grace. She does what so many women in America do -- she balances, in an exceptional way."

Haley said Ann Romney had "raised five amazing boys, battled MS, is a breast cancer survivor, and through it all was a true partner to Mitt at every turn. Ann Romney makes all women proud by the way she has conducted her life as a strong woman of faith, as a mother, as a wife and as a true patriot. She is an amazing inspiration for me and for so many women across this country."

She said, "We deserve a president who will turn our economy around. We deserve a president who will balance our budget. We deserve a president who will reform and protect our retirement programs for future generations."

"We deserve a president who will fight for American companies, not against them. We deserve a president who will strengthen and support our military, not destabilise them," Haley said, and then added to whoops, "America deserves better than what we have today.  We deserve a president Mitt Romney."

In an interview on Tuesday morning with 'USA TODAY' and 'Gannett', Haley said she hopes her speech helps broaden the GOP's appeal.

"I hope that I appeal to women," she said. "I hope that I appeal to minorities. I hope that I appeal to good Americans that want to see us self-correct."

Haley dismissed speculation that her acceptance of the high-profile speaking role means she's angling for higher office.

"People (at conventions) are too quick to say, 'She should run for national office, she would be great,'" she said. "The reality of it is, when I endorsed Governor Romney, I said I don't want anything. Sometimes people throw out names ... way too quickly and they don't realise that some of us just want to move at our own pace and some of us like just where we are."

But one of Haley's fiercest critics was quoted by 'Gannett' as disputing her assertion that Washington has stood in the way of what South Carolina wants to accomplish and said Haley has national ambitions, despite what she says.

Amanda Loveday, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said Haley, acting for political reasons, turned down federal education stimulus money designed to help the state's struggling public schools. South Carolina's loss was other states' gain, she said.

"She's all about doing whatever helps herself and boosts her celebrity rather than helping the people of South Carolina," Loveday said.
Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC