Gov. Nikki Haley, R- S.C., delivers a speech on "Lessons from the New South" during a luncheon at the National Press Club, Sept. 2, 2015, in Washington.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

South Carolina’s Nikki Haley to deliver State of the Union response


Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address next week.

Since her election in 2010, Haley has built a national profile, serving as the country’s youngest governor and South Carolina’s first woman to hold the job. An Indian-American who was first elected at the age of 38, she made headlines in July for her successful push to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds in Columbia.

A staunch conservative with relatively strong approval ratings – in a state that hosts the nation’s third presidential nominating contest – Haley is often discussed as a potential short-lister for the GOP vice presidential nod.

In a statement Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Haley as a leader who oversaw “an economic turnaround and set a bold agenda for her state, getting things done and becoming one of the most popular governors in America.”

The responsibility of delivering the opposition party’s response to the State of the Union is typically awarded to a rising star in politics. But the task has also sometimes ended up as a speed bump in the honoree’s career.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was widely lampooned for his awkward delivery of the State of the Union response in 2009, and Sen. Marco Rubio’s infamous break for a sip of water during his 2013 speech provided fodder for comedy writers for months. And Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who delivered the Republican response in 2010, was convicted on felony corruption charges in 2014.

Haley will be the second Republican woman in as many years to deliver the State of the Union response. Last year’s address was given by Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. 

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Barack Obama, Nikki Haley and State of the Union

South Carolina's Nikki Haley to deliver State of the Union response