The Right Wing

Right-Wing Backlash to Nikki Haley’s GOP State of the Union Response Grows to Reveal Ugly Racial Undertones

The South Carolina governor became a target after using her speech to take on her party's own xenophobic base.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joins U.S. military service members and community business partners for the launch of Operation Palmetto Employment, a statewide military employment initiative aimed at making South Carolina the most military-friendly state in the nation, Feb. 26, 2014, at Sysco in Columbia, S.C.
Photo Credit: By Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley finds herself in the unenviable position of having the just delivered the dreaded (and perhaps cursed?) Republican response to President Obama’s seventh, and final State of the Union address. While by nearly all measures she outperformed her predecessors, Haley has come under withering criticism from the most conservative voices in her party the morning after — voices like commentator Ann Coulter’s who demanded the rising GOP star and daughter of Indian immigrants be deported.

Coulter, who dismissed Haley’s move to remove the confederate flag from the capitol state grounds last summer, arguing that “she’s an immigrant and does not understand America’s history,” continued her attacks on the Republican governor and her heritage after Haley aimed significant portions of her response speech at criticizing growing anti-immigrant sentiments within the GOP base.

When Haley recited lines like, “during anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” she was implicitly taking a swipe at GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, as she confirmed to NBC News this morning: “Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I believe is irresponsible talk.”

Trump enthusiasts and right-wing conservatives, of course, were none too pleased with Haley’s pile-on after President Obama devoted significant portions of his final address to push-back against Trump’s brand of xenophobia:

But Haley did receive the support of Party leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, whom she confirmed approved of the speech before its delivery:

Sophia Tesfaye is the Deputy Politics Editor at Salon.

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