Nikki Haley introduced as ‘Reagan in a skirt’ at fundraiser

Paul Conner Executive Editor

Nikki Haley took her campaign to the northern part of South Carolina, touting elements of her newly released jobs plan and telling a crowd of 400 that she is running to “put common sense back in South Carolina.”

The Republican pick for South Carolina governor raised more than $34,000 at the fundraiser while delivering a 10-minute speech and taking questions from guests on issues ranging from immigration to stimulus money to education.

“We’re going to restructure our government, and we’re going to make it accountable,” Haley told an enthusiastic crowd at the clubhouse of a subdivision outside Rock Hill, S.C.

State Rep. Ralph Norman, York County Republican, introduced Haley as “Ronald Reagan in a skirt,” a description she somewhat cautiously embraced.

“It’s flattering,” Haley told The Daily Caller. “My vision is that we learn from the past and look to the future. It just means we have more to do in the future.”

In the speech, Haley promised to spend half her time on job improvement and to promote business investment in the state by eliminating the corporate income tax.

Haley said that her first task in office would be to push for comprehensive reform of the state’s tax code, which is part of her jobs plan “Less Talk, More Jobs” that was released last week.

The plan also calls for restructuring workers’ compensation, tort reform, lifting regulations on businesses, privatizing workforce centers and strengthening the state Department of Commerce.

“Other states are going to look at us and say, that’s how we should do it,” Haley said.

Haley was flanked by two posters of the July 12 edition of Newsweek, which featured her on the cover with the headline “The Face of the New South.”

“What happened was, this movement that we started grew, and it grew on the voices of the people of South Carolina,” Haley said. “They said, we want accountability in government, we want government to know the value of a dollar, and we want jobs and the economy to come first. We led this wave, and the national media saw that this is what good government looks like.”

About a dozen state and local officials were in attendance, including state Sen. Mick Mulvaney and state Rep. Eric Bedingfield, both Republicans.

A wreck on a nearby highway delayed some guests from arriving, but the crowd seemed buoyed and positive by the evening’s end.

“It’s not so much what she says. I focus on what she does,” said state comptroller Richard Eckstrom after the speech. “I’ve worked with her for six to eight years, and she is a consistent conservative. She is a refreshing breath of common sense.”

“I think it’s obvious she is the candidate we need,” said York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant. “She is fundamentally conservative, and she will always act in the best interest of the state, and I hope things work out in November.