Now that the sting of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 13-point loss in South Carolina’s primary has eased a little, the Romney team seems to have put Gov. Nikki Haley back in the game with her favorite presidential candidate.
Despite campaigning with Romney in New Hampshire and across South Carolina during the weeks before the Palmetto State’s the first-in-the-South primary, Haley was unable to deliver her state for the former Massachusetts governor. After Romney was walloped on election night by Newt Gingrich — who has only won one state since his decisive victory in South Carolina — Haley was nowhere to be found at the Romney campaign’s election night party.
None of this came as a surprise to political observers in the Palmetto State, who had been speculating since Haley endorsed Romney back in December that her support would hurt Romney’s chances in South Carolina more than it would help him. Despite the embarrassing loss — not to mention Haley’s rock-bottom poll numbers — some in the national media are still mentioning the South Carolina governor on Romney’s running mate shortlist.
But with Romney’s seeming inevitability a thing of the past, it looks like he intends to collect on every penny of the $62,000 worth of support he gave Haley during her 2010 bid for governor. That’s probably just fine with Haley, because Palmetto Public Record has noticed that the governor has been taking quite a few out-of-state political trips lately.
An examination of Gov. Haley’s publicly-released weekly schedules shows that the governor has been out of the state for at least 20 days over the last six months, all of which for political events and fundraisers such as the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner she’s attending on Tuesday. Palmetto Public Record also found several days for which the governor posted no public events or meetings, and while we can’t say she was out of the state on those days as well, it’s clear Haley wasn’t in her office.
Edit: As commenter Silvereagle points out, that tally doesn’t include all the days Haley spent campaigning for Romney in South Carolina.
It seems that Republican state Superintendent of Education Mick Zais’ habit of absenteeism and frequent vacations has rubbed off on Gov. Haley. In fact, on the very morning that Lt. Gov. Ken Ard was indicted earlier this month, Haley was spotted lounging in the Florida sun at a Club For Growth conference in Florida.
Yes, National Nikki is back in a big way — which is only going to get bigger once the governor’s ghost-written autobiography comes out next month. So far the only news outlet that has been given a copy of Gov. Haley’s upcoming book is Politico, which has continued to stoke rumors of Haley’s viability as a national candidate — even going so far as to irresponsibly predict that Haley could emerge as a surprise presidential candidate if Romney fails to deliver.
“It doesn’t makes sense,” one media source who was denied an advance copy of the book told Palmetto Public Record. “At least half of the books she’s going to sell will be in South Carolina, so you’d think the more coverage we could give it the better.”
That might be the case if Haley hadn’t already bypassed South Carolina media, blackballing local reporters for “unfavorable” coverage while making numerous appearances on Fox News and other national TV programs. After all, if she can get Politico to spin her message for a nationwide audience, why bother with reporters from WIS-TV or The State?
In the HBO docudrama Game Change, which chronicles Haley ally John McCain’s disastrous pick of Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election, one scene should stand out to South Carolina viewers as Palin gives up on Alaska media and her approval rating plummets. The moment comes during a lull between interviews and debate prep sessions, when Palin turns to McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt and whispers in his ear. “We have to win this thing,” she says. “I so don’t want to go back to Alaska.”
Check out Palmetto Public Record’s full list of Haley’s out-of-state fundraising trips and political events below:
Haley out of SC
March 20 (NRCC dinner)
March 23 (Campaigning for Romney)
March 8-9 (Club For Growth conference)
February 27 (RGA conference)
January 7 (Romney campaign)
Nov. 29-Dec. 1 (RGA conference)
November 7-11 (California fundraisers)
October 26 (Chamber of Commerce, RNC events)
October 19-21 (Delaware GOP fundraiser)
October 14 (Heritage Foundation event)
September 23 (Michigan GOP event)
December 22-23 (Christmas holiday)
November 23-25 (Thanksgiving holiday)