Nikki Haley Dismisses SOTU Response Backlash: ‘I Stand By What I Believe’

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said Wednesday that she stands by her GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in response to criticism from real estate mogul Donald Trump and some conservative pundits.

Haley criticized some Republicans’ hardline stance on immigration as she delivered her response and said early Wednesday that she was referring specifically to Trump. She later clarified that she was thinking about all the Republican presidential candidates, but the real estate mogul’s call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S in particular.

“When you’ve got immigrants who are coming here legally, we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion. Let’s not start that now,” she said while speaking to reporters in South Carolina. “We’ve gone too far than to go back into a race and religion issue. I’ve been through those fights. That’s not worth it.”

A reporter then asked Haley if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had said anything that she disagreed with, and she responded that if he said anything about immigration with respect to religion she would speak out against that.

“I have disagreements with other presidential candidates,” she continued. “Jeb Bush passed Common Core and Marco Rubio believes in amnesty which I don’t. There’s lots of things.”

Trump has since criticized Haley’s State of the Union response, calling her “weak” on illegal immigration. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants herself, was also asked by a reporter about conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s comment that Trump should deport her.

“I mean, those are the angry voices, right? And that’s the thing,” Haley said. “Look, I can appreciate that they’re angry. I said what I believe. I stand by what I believe.”

Haley added that she wrote her own speech, without oversight from the Republican National Committee or House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“My speech last night was not to win over anyone,” Haley said. “I understood that when I hit Republicans and Democrats I was going to upset people. But they gave me the opportunity to say what I think and that’s what I did.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Jerde is a newswriter based in New York. Her bylines have appeared in The Star-Ledger, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Columbus Dispatch. She graduated from Ohio University. Send emails to sara@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow her @SaraJerde.
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