South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has kept the door open to joining the 2016 Republican presidential ticket as vice president.
Haley was asked if she would agree to serve as vice president with Donald Trump, who is currently leading the GOP presidential field.
“That is so wrong, whoever sent that question. I’m just going to tell you that. This is what I will say, because I hope you don’t have ten more cards in there about vice president,” Haley said during a Q&A at the National Press Club in Washington. “Look, we’ve got 16 candidates. We’ve got a long way to go and we’re going to have a lot more debates and ups and downs of the different candidates. I’m not wasting any energy or any time thinking about that because I’ve got too much to do. I’m trying to continue to heal a state.”
“We are trying to get back on track because we lost time. So getting ready for our legislative session, I’m going to let all of this play out. That’s what I care about, that’s what’s important to me. I’ve got a son in middle school. I’ve got a daughter who’s a senior in high school. I’ve got a husband who just came back from Afghanistan a year ago. So, I mean, if there is a time and place to think about it, we’ll do it then. But I’m not going to waste any energy on that now,” she added.
When asked if she is going to finish her current term as governor, Haley said she would agree to meet with the Republican nominee.
“So what part of that did you not understand? No, honestly, what I will tell you is if there is a time where a presidential nominee wants to sit down and talk, of course I will sit down and talk but I am very aware, you have 16 really great candidates and that means you’re going to have 15 very potential good vice presidential candidates,” she said. “I really don’t think about that. I want to keep my promise to the people of South Carolina, which is to make every day better than the day before it. If a nominee asks me to sit down, of course I’ll talk to them and then we’ll go from there.”
Haley also called Trump “a friend” and a “smart businessman,” adding that GOP voters are clearly looking for a non-establishment figure for president.
“I know Mr. Trump, he’s been a supporter of mine and I consider him a friend. He has tapped into a frustration that’s very real and if you look at the candidates who are rising up, it’s Donald Trump, it’s Ben Carson, it’s Carly Fiorina. Don’t lose sight of the fact that they are looking for non-establishment people, and why are they looking for that? Because the people of American don’t feel heard and so they’re trying to move forward,” she said.
While Haley applauded Trump’s business accomplishments, she had some criticism of his campaign.
“He’s accomplished a lot during his career. It accomplishes nothing to get mad at anybody that criticizes you. So every time someone criticizes him, he goes and makes a political attack back. That’s not who we are as Republicans. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I want my South Carolinians to do, that’s not what I want us to do going forward. So that’s the part – you know, yesterday I think they started actually talking about issues and I got excited because they were actually talking about policy,” Haley said.
“That’s what Americans want to hear is policy. They don’t want to hear how someone offended you. They want to know they’re sending someone up to the White House that’s going to be calm and cool-tempered and not get mad at someone just because they criticize them. We would really have a world war if that happened.”
As the debate over illegal immigration continues, Haley urged Republicans to remember the fabric of America came from legal immigrants.
“I’m here because my mom and dad took that step to come here. There is so much talent that came from legal immigrants. We should never say a negative word about that because that talent is what has made this country so great. If you want to talk about tackling illegal immigration, then let’s talk about it,” she said.
“But we don’t need to attack so many millions of people who came here, who have worked hard, fought hard, and done it the right way like my parents to make them feel like they’re not part of this country, because they’re very much a part of this country and they’re proud to call themselves Americans.”