(Photo: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her endorsement of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president early Friday morning. Her announcement was made on “Fox & Friends.”
“Today is the day that I’m throwing all of my support behind Mitt Romney for president,” Haley said, “What I wanted was someone who knew what it was like to turn broken companies around.”
Haley is the first female governor of South Carolina who was elected in 2010 with the help of the Tea Party, a movement considered to be an impetus of the conservative base. Thus, her endorsement was highly sought after by all GOP candidates, with the exception of Texas congressman Ron Paul.
While speaking on Fox, however, her endorsement sounded less like a pro-Romney stance and more like an anti-Newt Gingrich position.
"I [don’t] want anybody who was involved in anything to do with the chaos that was in Washington," Haley said, according to CNN.
"The biggest contrast is, I want someone who knows how to lead, who has made tough decisions, not just made a vote," she said when asked about Gingrich. "That was really a defining factor. I didn't want anybody that involved in Washington."
Haley publicly condemned Gingrich’s opposition to Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal. According to CNN, she admits that Gingrich’s stance on the issue was a factor in her decision not to endorse him. She also said she believed his political moment has passed.
However, Romney is not the perfect candidate, Haley admitted on Fox and went on to comment about the GOP’s search for a perfect candidate.
“You put all these candidates together and you have one perfect candidate,” she said. “But you are never going to have a perfect candidate.”
She did note, however, that Romney is the one candidate most likely to beat President Obama in 2012.
"Gov. Romney is the one candidate that President Obama consistently tries to hit and get out of the way," Haley told Fox News. "That lets me know he's scared of him. It also lets me know Gov. Romney's got a good fight in him and that's the one President Obama doesn't want to have to go against."
Despite gaining this hard sought-after endorsement, it is unclear just how much Romney will gain from Haley’s endorsement. Since taking office, her popularity has dropped among both the GOP establishment and the grassroots. Her approval ratings have plummeted to 35 percent among South Carolina voters, according to a Winthrop University Poll.
However, Romney readily received Haley’s approval.
“It is an honor to have the endorsement of Governor Haley,” Romney’s campaign said in a released email.
“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.”
According to The New York Times, Romney considered Haley’s endorsement such a huge achievement that he wanted to be sure that members of the national media would make it to South Carolina for her announcement by chartering a plane from Iowa to her home state.
Haley’s endorsement has the potential to give Romney a broader nod from the Washington outsiders skeptical of his past political maneuvers. Recently, Romney has collected endorsements from several Tea Party politicians, including Christine O’Donnell.
Haley is expected to appear with Romney at a rally at a firehouse in Greenville, S.C., Friday afternoon. Afterwards, the pair will be on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record.”