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Right Turn
Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011

Nikki Haley: Kingmaker not candidate

Amidst the Newt Gingrich self-immolation interview on “Meet the Press,” the end of the Donald Trump farce and Mike Huckabee’s decision not to give up his affluent lifestyle, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s interview on “This Week” didn’t get much attention. It was noteworthy in several respects.

First, a Right Turn reader called my attention to the dog that didn’t bark. What’s the most pressing issue in South Carolina now? What’s the topic on which Haley, a Republican, has been opining and which she has indicated is a sort of test for the Republican contenders? The Boeing case, of course. It’s hard to miss that the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to file a complaint against the company to prevent the opening of a South Carolina plant is big news. Christiane Amanpour missed it entirely. Not a word.

You can imagine that this is yet another instance in which Amanpour is carrying water for the Democrats (in this case ignoring a bad issue for them). I think, however, that it is indicative of Amanpour’s lack of fluency in domestic politics. This has been a problem from the get-go, and it continues to plague “This Week.” If Candy Crowley is the best political analyst and questioner on the Sunday talk shows, then Amanpour is certainly the worst.

Amanpour apparently took Haley to be a political consultant and used nearly the entire interview to pepper her with questions about the GOP contenders. The point of this was unclear. You don’t suppose Amanpour likes to induce Republicans to carp at one another, do you?

Nevertheless, there were a couple of nuggets of news in there. For what it is worth, Haley ruled out a vice presidential run. (“No wiggle room at all. We are staying in South Carolina, and we’re going to continue to lead it in a way that makes everyone proud.”) Haley has been one of the most-talked-about VP prospects for 2012, along with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). But if she isn’t going to run, she will play a critical role in the South Carolina primary.

Endorsements, I think, are much less important than they used to be. (The mayor of Grand Rapids endorses candidate X days before the New Hampshire primary! Really, who cares?) That said, there a handful of critical ones. Like Haley, if New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or Sarah Palin don’t run themselves, they become influential in picking the nominee. Given the prominence of the South Carolina primary, none will be as sought after as Haley.

Finally, those Republicans bemoaning the current, shrunken crop of presidential contenders may take some solace in the recognition that there is an extraordinary group of rising stars (Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan, McDonnell, Haley, Rubio, etc.) who will populate the GOP presidential tickets for many future elections. But it sure would be nice if one of them realized that there is a golden opportunity in 2012 to beat a mediocre primary field and challenge an incumbent with a lousy economic record.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign, Media

 
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