Video: Haley: Palin gave race amazing boost

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    >> there you go. here with us now, nikki haley , winner of the south carolina republican run-off for nomination for governor. nikki, congratulations. it definitely has been a long road.

    >> it has been a long road. when we were down at the debate, everyone was whispering. mark sanford is for her and -- of course that, obviously, didn't hurt. and, of course, jenny supported you as well.

    >> she did.

    >> but the ugliness. i got say the ugliness surprised me. i'm surprised by the stories that came out and how the press just immediately followed these unsubstantiated rumors. were you surprised by what you found yourself in the middle of?

    >> you know it was interesting because as we started to get the message out about a conservative movement , as we started getting the message about returning the power to the people , we got a surprise shock in the fact that we rose in the poll numbers by double digits. not only did it surprise our opponents. it surprised us. at that point, we celebrated for all of two minutes and then we realized, uh-oh, this is going to hurt. before we knew it, four weeks before the election, they literally threw the kitchen sink at us. but what i'm so thrilled about is that the people of south carolina rose above it. they said this is about the economy. this is about jobs. and they just said they did not want any of the negative politics. and they totally discounted it. i'm so proud of that.

    >> most of the kitchen sinks that were thrown at you had a republican elephant on them. i mean, you not only had to fight the democrats. you had to fight the republican party establishment. why is that?

    >> well you know, i think we have to see not just in south carolina but across this country. we've seen a lot of republicans who have learned the talking points but haven't learned the conservative actions associated with those talking points . this is about returning government back to the people. this is about holding elected officials accountable and making them aware whof it is they work for. when you push on the establishment, it's going to push back. our goal at the end of the day is the people win.

    >> the concern was that mark sanford was very confrontational with the republican house and the republican senate. he famously carried pigs into the chamber and let them loose saying that the republicans were pork barrel spenders. real concerned that you're going to be as confrontational as mark sanford was with the republican establishment. if that's the case you think that actually helped you?

    >> you know, i think that people try and compare and make contracts just to cause conversation. the truth is, yes, i'm going to talk about accountable government. why i'm going to talk about the fact they need to understand it's not government's money they're spending. it's the people's money. why i'm going to talk about transparency and accountability and creating jobs in this state. but i'm going to do that through communication. i've been in the legislature long enough to know what the problems are so they can't pull one over on me but not so long to be part of the fraternity party. it's that and learning from the chchblgs governor sanford that i am going to use to govern so people feel real action in the first year.

    >> last time we saw you, you were, obviously, taking part in the debate. three other guys and you. and i'm wondering what happened inside your campaign when people started throwing around these ridiculous rumors, which i won't repeat, but they were really ugly. how did you keep your head about yourself. how did you strategize as a leader of the campaign and what did your advisers say to you. what was the conversation like when this stuff was thrown at you?

    >> you know it really was -- i don't think you are ever prepared for that. we certainly were not prepared for -- it's hard to fight something that's just not true. and so we were sitting there trying to figure out thou do it. what i knew at the end of the day and what my husband said was we were not going to get distracted. all it did was make me more determined. make me more just adamant that we had to turn around and make sure this message stayed on track and they were not going to distract us. the more they tried to distract us, the more we stayed on message and the people responded not only on the eighth, they responded last night.

    >> there were the racist comments as well coming again from a republican legislator.

    >> she weathered all those. it's willie geist . congratulations on your win last night.

    >> thank you.

    >> i'm curious to hear what impact you thought sarah palin had. how much effect did she have on your win?

    >> you know it was interesting because when we started this movement, what we said was we went into rooms and we said if you like what i have to say go tell ten people, and they did. so this grassroots effort movement had already started. governor palin has been fabulous at getting people tond the power of their voice. when she came to south carolina , she gave us an amazing boost and a push of credibility that we needed at that time. so it was great timing. it was the fact we'd already started a grassroots movement and it all came together nicely.

    >> how is your family responding to this victory? i'm sure your husband is happy. you have kids, right?

    >> i do. they are 8 and 12.

    >> oh, wow.

    >> i'm still very much just mom to them, which i love. and so this is -- they see some cameras, but they are very unaffected by it. my husband has been amazing. he's the one that in the last few weeks of the campaign he said turn the tv off, quit reading the newspaper and let's stay focused. that's what we've done. i don't think it's really hit us yet. we were thinking last night, oh, my gosh, did this really happen, coming from fourth place to seeing we got through the run-off. today it will hit us and we'll start having some fun.

    >> south carolina has been unfairly maligned through the years. i think unfairly. and yet last night, elected an indian-american as republican nominee and an african-american in a race against strom thurmond 's son and carol campbell 's son. is this the new south carolina ?

    >> you know what this is? this is the start of the movement across the country. this is a south carolina where they confirmed the goodness of people. where they confirm the fact that it is understanding the value of a dollar. that it is turning around and taking their government back, and that is t is turning around and make suring we'll not be associated with labels. we're going to be associated with good policy. i think the people of south carolina spoke loud and clear in that congressional race, as well as in the gubernatorial race. the country is going to realize we've got great people here that make great decisions that gorg lead this movement of returning government back to the people.

    >> we're going to head down

By
updated 6/23/2010 4:01:01 PM ET 2010-06-23T20:01:01

South Carolina Republicans nominated a tea party-backed Indian-American woman to run for governor and a conservative black man to run for Congress from the former Confederate state. Another incumbent congressman lost. So did a Senate hopeful chosen by Washington Democrats.

Themes of the November midterm elections popped up in the handful of primaries and runoffs held Tuesday in four states, the latest cluster of contests to determine matchups for the congressional elections just over four months away.

It's shaping up to be an unpredictable year with several variables — from the sluggish economy to President Barack Obama's popularity to lingering resentment over lawmaker votes for the 2008 Wall Street bailout — affecting races across the country. The one clear element is the electorate's disgust with establishments of any kind; angry voters routinely are casting ballots against candidates with ties to Washington and the national political parties.

Perhaps no other contest illustrated that better than GOP state Rep. Nikki Haley's race for governor.

A state legislator with the backing of tea party activists and Sarah Palin, the Indian-American woman overtook the state's old-boy network to trounce Rep. Gresham Barrett, a four-term congressman.

With her victory, she moved one step closer to becoming the first female governor in conservative South Carolina; she stands as the front-runner in the race against the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. She also secured her place as a rising female star in the GOP, if not a potential 2012 vice presidential candidate in the early primary state.

"South Carolina just showed the rest of the country what we're made of," Haley said following her victory. "It's a new day in our state, and I am very blessed to be a part of it."

The disgraced GOP Gov. Mark Sanford is leaving the post because of term limits.

Image: Tim Scott
Brad Nettles  /  AP
Rep. Tim Scott won the 1st District nomination on Tuesday, June 22nd and stands in line to be the state's first black GOP congressmen.

Haley, 38, brushed aside allegations of marital infidelity and an ethnic slur to come within a percentage point of winning the gubernatorial nod outright on June 8. She won 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Barrett, who has had to answer for his 2008 vote for the unpopular Wall Street bailout.

South Carolina Republicans also nominated Tim Scott, putting him in line to become the state's first black GOP congressman in more than a century.

Scott, 44, also a state lawmaker, beat Paul Thurmond, the son of the late U.S. senator and former segregationist Strom Thurmond, in the runoff after securing the backing of Palin, the anti-tax Club for Growth and several Republican leaders in Washington. With all precincts counted, he had 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Thurmond.

The GOP-leaning 1st Congressional District stretches down the Carolina coast and includes Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. If elected to the House, Scott would be the GOP's first black lawmaker since Oklahoma's J.C. Watts retired in 2003.

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Scott will face Democrat Ben Frasier, who also is black, in November, and is strongly favored to win; the district, which is 72 percent white, has sent a Republican to Congress for three decades. Rep. Henry Brown is retiring.

Also in South Carolina, six-term Republican Rep. Bob Inglis fell to prosecutor Trey Gowdy in the 4th Congressional District, making him the fifth House or Senate incumbent to stumble this year. Spartanburg prosecutor Gowdy forced Inglis into a runoff after making the race a referendum on the incumbent's bailout vote and casting him as not conservative enough for the district.

In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall won the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Sen. Richard Burr in the fall.

She beat former Army prosecutor Cal Cunningham, a blow to Democratic Party leaders in Washington who recruited him and spent more than $100,000 to boost his campaign. Despite holding statewide office for more than a decade, Marshall portrayed herself as an outsider while claiming she was an advocate for average citizens and a fighter against powerful industries.

Utah Republicans chose attorney Mike Lee as a successor to vanquished Sen. Bob Bennett in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator in four decades. Lee defeated businessman Tim Bridgewater to win the GOP Senate nomination.

Bennett lost his bid last month for a fourth term. Conservatives at the GOP state convention punished him for his support of the financial bailout.

In Mississippi, voters chose Republican Bill Marcy to challenge Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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