Nikki Haley wants ‘Battle for Boeing’ to be 2012 issue

at 03:49 PM ET, 05/10/2011


Gov. Nikki Haley wants the 'Battle for Boeing' to be a national issue. (Brett Flashnick - AP Photo)
For weeks, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has been working to bring more attention to a local fight between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board.

Could it be the next Wisconsin — a showdown between a prominent (and newly elected) Republican governor and national labor groups? Haley seems to hope so.

At a press conference packed with prominent Republicans at the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, Haley argued that the future of the country is at stake. “This is an issue that may have started in South Carolina, but we want to make sure it never touches another state,” she said. “This an unbelievable attack on not just right-to-work states but every state that’s attempting to put their people to work.”

.At issue is a complaint the NLRB filed against Boeing, claiming the airplane manufacturer decided to build a plant in South Carolina in retaliation for a strike in Washington state. Labor officials say this is merely an attempt to punish attempts at illegal retaliation against striking workers. Republicans say the complaint amounts to an effort to place strictures on companies who want to relocate projects away from unionized plants.

Haley isn’t the only prominent Republican politician who has taken up this fight. “The administration’s pandering to unions has gotten so far out of proportion its difficult to accept,”said Sen. Jim DeMint (R). And the press conference was packed with other well-known Republicans. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) all spoke at today’s press conference.

Given the array of Republicans seeking to elevate the NLRB/Boeing fight, the relative silence of 2012 GOP contenders is notable.

So far the only top-tier candidate to weigh-in is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has weighed in, with an op-ed in National Review. Pawlenty also got huge applause for standing with Haley on the issue in last week’s debate.

South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly said that the NLRB fight will be “very important” in the state’s 2012 GOP presidential primary.

Democrats dismissed Haley’s trip to Washington as nothing more than a bit of political grandstanding for a politician with national ambitions.

“Going to Washington to complain about the NLRB is a useless gesture,” said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian . “She’s showcasing herself inside the Beltway for a possible role in the 2012 election.”

Regardless of her motivations, Haley is a coveted endorser in the 2012 primary fight given her national prominence and the state’s critical early role in the nomination fight.

So far, she’s been coy about her preferred candidate, but it’s clear that she wants someone who will stand behind her on specific issues.

And that starts with the NLRB fight. “Tim Pawlenty did a great job stepping up,” Haley said. “I’d like to see every candidate step up [ and say] what they would do about it.”

 
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