Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will deliver the GOP Rebuttal to tonight's State of the Union address in what many consider to be an audition for a potential vice presidential run for the 43-year-old telegenic Indian-American. Haley made national headlines earlier this year when she made the controversial decision to take down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state House following the Ebenezer Baptist Church shooting that killed nine.
Haley has presented herself as the face of the New South: a Republican woman of color, who is not afraid to take on race issues and has attracted the type of cosmopolitan financial elite to South Carolina who are seen as key to keeping capital flowing into the state. That, along with her union-busting reputation makes her an appetizing choice for establishment Republicans for a national leadership roll.
But the establishment may be miscalculating in an election cycle where Donald Trump and his relatively extreme stances on the more visceral issues of immigration, economic management and foreign policy have captured the imagination of the GOP electorate. Is being tough on unions an issue that's going to excite the more xenophobic Republican rank and file?
Haley has made it very clear: Unions are not welcomed in the State of South Carolina. The state's union membership rate is the third-lowest in the country at 3.7%. As Haley puts it, employees don't need unions in the South because the culture of Southern hospitality makes employers more receptive to their employees.