SC Gov. Nikki Haley endorses Ted Cruz
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, a rising national Republican star, said Wednesday that she is backing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz after her choice for the White House, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, exited the race.
“My hope and my prayer is that Sen. Cruz can come through so that he can push through and really get to where he needs to go,” Haley told reporters at the S.C. State House. “Because we do want a strong leader. We do want a somebody that’s conservative. We do want somebody that’s action minded.”
Haley considered Cruz for her original endorsement. She had dinner with Cruz, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the weeks before the S.C. Republican primary before choosing to endorse Rubio, a source close the governor said. Donald Trump won the S.C. primary.
Haley said she does not plan formally endorse Cruz, but added, if asked who she is supporting, “I very much want to see Sen. Cruz now be able to move through the ranks and get that top position.”
Haley sees a path to the nomination for Cruz because his disciplined campaign can win more delegates. The Republican National Convention could be contested if no candidate wins a majority of delegates.
She does not see a path for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to win the GOP nod, but Haley stopped short of suggesting he leave the race.
“I think Gov. Kasich had a good win in his home state (on Tuesday),” she said. “But what he chooses to do, that’s up to him.”
Haley said she would back the Republican presidential contender in November even if it’s the GOP front-runner, Trump. She and the New York billionaire have fueded over his campaign tactics and proposals, including a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
“Ask me when the time comes again, but as of now I strongly believe I will support the Republican nominee,” Haley said.
Rubio, who like Haley is a 44-year-old child of immigrants, dropped out of the race on Tuesday after losing his home state to Trump.
Andrew Shain: @AndyShain