South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined the growing chorus of Republicans critical of the “Black Lives Matter” movement on Wednesday.
The rising Republican star said “black lives do matter,” during an address on race at the National Press Club in Washington, but said the popular protest movement detracts from the push for racial equality, because activists within it “yell and scream” too much. “Often the best thing we can do is turn down the volume and listen,” she told reporters.
Haley’s remarks come on the heels of similar rebukes from 2016 presidential candidates including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (who countered “Innocent Lives Matter”), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson. Haley, whose national profile was raised after her handling of the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting massacre, could possibly occupy a general election ticket with one of those contenders next fall.
During her appearance Wednesday, Haley didn’t rule out the prospect of becoming the second female VP nominee for the Republicans in a decade. “If a nominee asks me to sit down, of course I’ll talk to them, and then we’ll go from there,” she said. Haley has been a popular potential pick for months, with momentum picking up because of her leadership amid a crisis.
“I think it ups her VP stock. There’s no question about it,” said GOP strategist and former John McCain campaign adviser Ford O’Connell told msnbc in June. “She started as a bright star but somewhere in the line got lost in the mix. This situation puts her back at the top.”
As an Indian-American, Haley believes she has unique perspective to offer on the issue of race and she insisted that “I would not have been elected governor of South Carolina if our state was a racially intolerant place.”
She struck a delicate balance in her remarks Wednesday, both praising the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse and calling for the protection of controversial voter ID laws, which critics say disproportionately affect people of color. Haley acknowledged the challenges some face obtaining and ID, but held firm on the laws’ efficacy.
“… Let’s not throw out voter ID laws – the integrity of our democracy is too important for that. But let’s figure out ways to make it easy and cost-free for every eligible voter to obtain a photo ID. That way, everyone who wants to vote, can vote,” she said.
“This is not just a black and white thing. For Indian and Asian-Americans, for Jewish-Americans, for Mexican-Americans, our party and our principles have so much to offer. It’s on us to communicate our positions in ways that wipe away the clutter of prejudices,” Haley said. “For African-Americans in particular, whether it’s more jobs, better focused educational resources, police body cameras, and the like, Republicans have a great deal to offer. But we have to change our approach.”