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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley warned against following “the siren call of the angriest voices” and said anyone who respects America’s laws and traditions should be welcome in the country during the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” Haley said. “No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country."
Haley’s response comes amidst a heated GOP presidential primate in which Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has proposed temporarily banning most Muslims from entering the country. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, said the U.S. must welcome "properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries."
And following an Obama speech that was filled with references to Donald Trump and the rhetoric coming from Republican presidential candidates, Haley said “there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results” and that “often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume.”
As is common for the State of the Union response, Haley attacked the president for a record that has "fallen far short of his soaring words." She said the country is facing the most dangerous terrorist threat since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a failing economy and "chaotic unrest in many of our cities."
In recent years, the GOP has chosen both rising stars and diverse conservatives to deliver the high-profile speech as a way to showcase the party's minority and female leaders. Increasing Republican support among women and non-white voters will be essential for GOP to take back the White House in 2016.
At 43, Haley is the nation’s youngest governor, and could be an appealing vice presidential pick for the eventual Republican presidential nominee. She is the third straight woman to deliver the GOP’s response.
Haley made national news last year when she called for the removal of the Confederate flag outside the South Carolina statehouse after a white gunman was charged with killing nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston.
“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him,” Haley said.
And in a tone striking for the partisanship that has consumed both Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign, Haley said Democrats alone are not solely to blame for the challenges facing the country.
“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken,” Haley said. “And then we need to fix it.”