Former SC Governor & UN Ambassador Thrills Charleston Crowd During Book Tour Stop
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
While there are many strong and confident women like her, Nikki Haley stands out among the crowd given her high profile time in politics. Haley served in state legislature, becoming South Carolina’s first female governor (2011-17), all prior to her two year role as United States ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump Administration.
Perhaps no one is ‘Defending America with ‘Grit & Grace’ more eloquently than Nikki Haley. It is the subtitle to her recent book ‘With All Due Respect’, which itself has become a tag line for Haley. During her latest book tour, the Palmetto State native enthralled hundreds of admirers for nearly an hour, inside a ballroom at the Gaillard Center (Nov 17th).
Moderated by Craig Melvin of NBC’s Today Show, Haley was equal parts funny, charming, and engaging, sharing humorous and often compelling stories detailed in her memoir. Although she spoke with southern genteel, Haley reflected on rising above childhood discrimination, the 2015 Charleston church shootings, and her time struggling with fellow cabinet members in the Trump Administration, telling them “If you don’t like what the president is doing than leave.”
After spending an hour with Nikki Haley, you quickly appreciate her love for God and family, as well as her passion for the United States of America. She is as candid in person as she is in the 251 pages of ‘With All Due Respect’. Not only was Haley calm in the storm during the church shootings, she has in her own words witnessed evil around the world as UN Ambassador. Through it all she reminded those in attendance and book readers, “that on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America”.
While her new book provides a little insight into her rural beginnings in Bamberg SC and the plight her parents faced as being the only Indian family in a small town, most of ‘With All Due Respect’ reflects on a determined woman inspired by her parents, to rise above ridicule, to stand up for herself, and to make a difference in the world.
History has proven that Nikki Haley was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her parents moved to South Carolina in 1968, giving birth to Nikki in 1972. A Clemson graduate, Haley earned every position she obtained with fortitude, perseverance, and perhaps divine intervention.
During her time as governor she steadied the state through two separate civil rights incidents, including the un-armed shooting after a routine traffic stop by a police officer in North Charleston, and the Mother Emanuel tragedy. The church shooter’s manifesto only cemented Haley’s resolve to remove the Confederate Flag from the state house in Columbia. She addressed every issue in her home state with compassion and conviction.
Haley carried the same fearlessness with her to the United Nations. After Trump was the president elect, he invited then Governor Haley to New York, offering her the job as Secretary of State to which she quickly turned down, adding at the time she was not fully qualified for the position.
Upon returning to South Carolina, she got a second call from Trump’s think tank asking if she’d accept the Ambassador role, which after talking with her husband Michael she accepted on three conditions. She told Trump that her role would have to be one of a cabinet level position, where she was included in policy discussion, and more importantly that she was going to be open and honest. Trump agreed to all three stipulations.
Although she only served two years at the UN, history will prove Haley as one of the most dynamic and effective American Ambassadors of all time. She never backed down, and despite disagreements with Trump, Haley always had the president’s back. Her new book chronicles her time in the Trump Administration and the title comes from a miscue by White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow.
Offering up information on a Sunday morning’s Face The Nation, Haley indicated that sanctions on Russia would be coming down on Monday due to their support of Assad’s use of chemical warfare. While the administration made it clear to Haley prior to the weekend, they did not advise her Trump had changed his mind on Saturday before her appearance on the news show Sunday morning.
The miscommunication raised a media firestorm, which Haley said the White House had to extinguish right away. During her book tour and detailed in her memoir, Haley offered up. “Larry Kudlow threw me under the bus, saying I was momentarily confused.” Since that cast a bad light on Haley she took matters in her own hands.
“It was 4:45 on Tuesday afternoon. I knew the only way I could correct what was misleading about the story was to stand up for myself. I called Fox’s Dana Perino who is a friend and asked her to do me a favor. She said she would. I knew she would be going on to do The Five in a few minutes, so I said please share this comment for me. ‘With all due respect, I don’t get confused’.”
Whether Perino had a previous piece ready for the panel’s ‘One More Thing’ segment at the closing of the show, she went with the quote from Haley instead. Haley went on to say that Kudlow called her almost immediately after The Five went off the air, offering an apology. Haley added for the audience her response to Kudlow. “In what world is it ever okay to say someone is confused, and more importantly in what world is it okay to say I’m confused.”
For 47 years Nikki Haley has been a clear thinking and determined woman, perhaps inspired by her mom’s business sense. In her new book ‘With All Due Respect : Defending America With Grit and Grace’ Haley proves that being true to yourself, serving the people with compassion, and standing up for America is the best version of democracy.
Whether she has her sights on a 2024 presidential run, Haley only offered up, “A year is a lifetime in politics, and anything can happen. It really is wasted time to think that far out, and try to read the tea leaves, because you just can’t.” Haley added she’s never discussed the possibility with her husband, which brought laughter to Melvin’s face. I’m certain many in the audience which included her in-laws might think otherwise, but nonetheless would fully support her in becoming the first female POTUS.
For conservatives and republicans ‘With All Due Respect’ is a perfect gift for the holidays. The candid memoir is a behind the scenes revealing book depicting a smart and sensitive woman, who has witnessed human suffering, represented America’s national interests on the world stage, and held her own in the Trump Administration, all with ‘grit & grace’.
The few times she disagreed with Trump, or took issue with a Twitter attack on her support of Marco Rubio early in the 2016 primary, she simply replied to Trump with the every popular southern female refrain, “Bless Your Heart.” It drew a pleasant chuckle from the crowd.
Leaving on a lighter note, a 1993 Clemson graduate Haley often talks with Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney. Haley said she texts Swinney on Saturdays before the games often giving advice to the coach. She said he usually replies with the standard, ‘Go Tigers’. When she stepped aside from the UN, Swinney texted her he had a coaching position open on his staff. Haley told the crowd, “I answered be careful what you wish for.”
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