Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina delivered a televised response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address (SOTU) Tuesday night. Haley is the second Indian American politician to deliver the Republican response to SOTU, according to NBC News, following Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, who took a beating for his response in 2009.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” Haley said in her speech.
Haley later confirmed on the Today show that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is one the the “angriest voices”. “Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” she told co-host Matt Lauer.
“She was willing to do something a lot of other leading Republicans have been unwilling to do, which is to actually articulate a commitment for American values that some leading Republican presidential candidates are speaking out against,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said of Haley. “Her willingness to stand up and speak out against that took some courage and was it rather conspicuous.”
Haley also addressed immigration in her speech, suggesting that fixing the immigration system “means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion.”
Referencing her own background, she said, “I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me everyday how blessed we were to live in this country.”
To that, Trump lambasted Haley, saying she was “very weak on illegal immigration”. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter attacked Haley, tweeting “Trump should deport Nikki Haley”.
Trump should deport Nikki Haley.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 13, 2016
Conservative pundit Matt Lewis and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, however, praised Haley for her response:
Very good Nikki Haley speech. The Party of Ryan/Haley is a stark contrast to the Party of Trump.
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) January 13, 2016
Proud of my friend @nikkihaley for delivering a positive & uplifting response to Pres. Obama’s #SOTU. Clear vision for a brighter future.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) January 13, 2016