Does South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley have the same speechwriter as President Barack Obama?
One might have gotten that outlandish impression after listening to the President’s State of the Union Address and then the very unusual so-called Republican response by Haley.
Both speeches shared similar themes and both appeared to target current GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, particularly his stance against illegal immigration.
Trump has proposed deporting the several million illegal immigrants here in the U.S., building a wall on the border with Mexico and temporarily halting immigration by Muslims in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
“Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, turning against each other as a people?” Obama asked during the speech.
“Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention,” the President added elsewhere, another apparent jab at Trump.
Contrast that with Haley’s very similar statement: “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”
Was she referring to Obama — or Trump? Remember, this is the Republican response to the State of the Union Address.
Because, Haley then segued directly into a discussion on illegal immigration, saying, “No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country. At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined. We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries. I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.”
As a matter of fact, Obama did not even mention illegal immigration in his speech. Who else could she have been referencing besides Trump?
Elsewhere in the speech, Haley also said, “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”
Loudest voice? Was Haley responding to Obama — or Trump?
Fortunately, readers don’t have to guess.
On NBC’s “Today Show” Haley confirmed to Matt Lauer she was indeed referring to Trump with the “loudest voice” and the “siren call of the angriest voices” references in the speech.
“He was one of them. Yes. He was one. There’s other people in the media, there’s people in my state, I think we’re seeing it across the country. But, yes. Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” she replied.
When asked if she was supposed to deliver a partisan response to Obama — although Lauer characterized it as “a full scale, partisan, political attack” — Haley responded, “That wasn’t me. That’s not me.”
And this is supposed to a prospective candidate for vice president — who traditionally serves as an attack dog on the campaign trail? Lauer said because of her speech she had cemented her position as “a leading candidate for vice president.” Haley declined to answer whether she would take the job.
But perhaps Haley already gave her response when she was asked if she was supposed to deliver a partisan counterpoint to Obama from the State of the Union Address: “That’s not me.”
Maybe her role was not to respond to Obama or Democrats at all. Take this self-inflicted wound: “I think it’s important that Republicans look in the mirror and realize, we also are to blame.”
Blame? For what, precisely? Someone needs to ask a follow-up question here.
If she is referring to spending trillions of dollars we don’t have, adding to the now $18 trillion national debt, we agree. Or failing to defund the health care law, Obama’s executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children or Planned Parenthood. Or bailing out banks in TARP. Or, one could go on.
Otherwise, what does she think Republicans are to blame for?
There are many places for Republicans to be introspective.
But, there is a time and a place for that. And it’s probably not following up the State of the Union Address.
Just saying. Because, this was a rather unusual “response” to Obama by Republicans, that appeared more concerned about, say, influencing GOP primary voters in the must-win state of South Carolina than providing a Republican counterpoint to Obama. If and when it backfires, nobody should be surprised.
This is a guest post by Robert Romano senior editor of Americans for Limited Government