Bob Bestler

I may never vote for her, but Nikki Haley does South Carolina proud

Love her or hate her – and I think no one hates her – Nikki Haley did South Carolina proud this week – again.

Testifying at her confirmation hearing, Haley forcefully set herself at odds with President Trump on two key issues.

She told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, despite Trump’s apparent coziness with Vladimir Putin, Russia “can’t be trusted” and insisted that NATO remained important to the defense of Western Europe.

She also said that, despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric, she would never support instituting a Muslim registry.

They were reassuring words for both Democrats and Republicans, and Haley’s confirmation as U.N. ambassador is all but done.

It’s one more step in what can only be called a stunning political career.

I confess that I voted against Haley twice and watched with little interest her first few years as governor.

It wasn’t until she spoke about the shooting of nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel in Charleston that I paid attention.

“The heart and soul of South Carolina has been broken,” she said.

Those simple words, uttered haltingly, brought her to tears; I also teared up as I listened on my car radio.

Later, she mourned with President Obama as he eulogized Pastor Clement Pinckney.

Still later she took the courageous step of calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from State House grounds.

Again, her words were simple but eloquent: “This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.”

Three weeks later, after decades of controversy, the flag came down.

It’s no secret that she is taking the U.N. position to give her greater experience (and exposure) on the national and international stage – a chance to enhance her resume.

Already her name has often been floated by Republicans as possible presidential or vice presidential candidate in some future election and it’s easy to see why.

I don’t pay much attention to state politics, but by all accounts Haley has served the state well. She is credited with helping lure Boeing and Volvo, among others, to locate in our state and provide needed jobs.

Being a woman (and a minority) can’t hurt in the eyes of moderate Republicans. Even at this stage of her career, I think you’d have to look long and hard to find another Republican woman of her stature.

So, yes, as a Democrat I may never vote for her, but I have become a fan of Nikki Haley and I believe her political star will only continue to rise. That’s not a bad thing.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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