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Obama rejects Nikki Haley's demand

December 03, 2010 16:17 IST

Indian-American Governor-elect of South Carolina Nikki Haley met Barack Obama on Thursday and asked him to scrap the health care bill, but the United States President rejected her appeal.

"He (Obama) said as long as he was President, he would not," Haley was quoted as saying by the Gannett Washington Bureau after she met Obama at the White  House on Thursday along with other newly elected Governors.

"I said the people of South Carolina and the small businesses of South Carolina cannot afford the mandated health care law they had passed," Haley told the McClatchy newspapers in another interview after the meeting.

"I told him that our economy is already in a tough spot, and our budget cannot sustain the mandate," she said.

Obama also rejected Haley's request to reconsider his decision to freeze development of the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada to receive nuclear waste from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and sites in other states.

Haley asked two of the dozen questions posed by Republican governors-elect during the meeting, which was closed for the press. "We have just had a very vigorously contested election, but the election is over. And now I think it is time for all of us to make sure that we are working together," she said.

"I am a very proud Democrat, as some of you in the room are, although not as many as I had expected. Some of you are very proud Republicans. But we are all prouder to be Americans," Obama told them.

During the meeting, Haley asked Obama to refund South Carolina $1.2 billion that the state has contributed to a nuclear waste storage fund. Obama said that he would ask Energy Secretary Steven Chu to call her soon.

"I appreciated his openness and willingness to hear what the governors had to say. It was a respectful exchange," Haley was quoted as saying. Haley also met Vice President Joe Biden.

In fact, they sat next to each other during lunch and talked about a range of issues such as the automotive industry and energy policy. She invited Biden to Charleston after he said that he liked the city very much.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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