Path to Power
Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, Haley grew up in Bamberg, S.C. where her Sikh parents (a biology professor and entrepreneur) were the first Indian immigrants the small town had ever seen.
Growing up in such an environment was sometimes difficult. She has described her family's effort to blend in as "survival mode." "You learn to try and show people how you're more alike than you are different," she said.
Like the disgraced outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, Haley espouses more hardline conservative ideas than most members of the state GOP.
She supports smaller government, lower taxes and restrained public spending. An accountant by profession, she has promised to eliminate excess spending from the state budget and has plans for tax reform.
Haley has long been the protege of outgoing Gov. Sanford, who encouraged her to run for governor in early 2009. That support helped Haley get the fundraising ball rolling - until his sex-scandal broke, and the funding dried up. More recently, Haley also gained the support of the governor's ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, who celebrated Haley "break[ing] the glass ceiling in our state."
But more signficantly, Haley's anti-establishment credentials helped catch the attention of Sarah Palin, who swooped in, less than a month before the primary, to endorse Haley, sending her poll numbers through the roof. Palin also warned Haley about the attacks she might face, and defended her when the sex scandals broke.