On National Book Tour, Haley Denies National Ambitions
The governor's "No" met with skepticism and parody.
Editor's Note: This story was edited at 9:10 a.m. April 3 to correct Gov. Chris Christie's state.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley told ABC News on Monday that she would politely decline an offer for the vice presidential nomination.
The comment made news for allegedly pulling Haley off the running-mate short list for likely GOP candidate Mitt Romney.
But, just as quickly, media outlets doubted the conviction of Haley's "No."
And opponents took the opportunity to take potshots at the governor's national aspirations.
Haley is just one of more than a dozen GOP rising stars who will be batting away repeated questions about their vice presidential potential — among them, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio.
"I would not accept," Haley told ABC's Good Morning America. "I made a promise to the people of this state. And I intend to keep that promise."
Proof that she's been asked the question more than enough, Haley will be back on ABC's Nightline on Tuesday night saying almost the exact same thing.
"I'd say, 'Thank you, but no,'" she said in the taped interview. "I made a promise to the people of this state. And I think that promise matters. And I intend to keep it."
While Haley denies a current plan for national fame, the national spotlight continues to shine on her as she releases her first book, "Can't Is Not An Option: My American Story." It hits bookshelves today. A weekend feature on it in The State focused on the book's Tea Party roots. A Palmetto State book tour begins this weekend in Charleston.
Haley's Facebook supporters thanked her for the commitment to her current office. "Thanks for staying with us and building us up!" one wrote. "I love your loyalty to our beautiful state!" another commented.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza said Monday that Haley's "No," along with denials from Rubio, could just as well be a veiled "call me."
The truth of the matter is that both of them are following the cardinal rule of running for vice president: Act like you are not running for vice president.
Romney's running mate pick is very important, said Jeri Cabot, adjunct political science professor at the College of Charleston. The former moderate Mormon Massachusetts governor who led the charge on healthcare reform has several pockets of conservative voters who will likely need comforting by a veep pick closer to their ideology.
For casual observers, Haley may look good on a some superficial checklist: a minority woman and Tea Party favorite. But there are more pressing superficial concerns Romney will likely have to address first, finding a life-long Christian and swing state fiscal hawk.
And, when you start digging, Cabot said there's not enough on Haley's resume to make her a serious short-list option.
"Frankly, I don't think they would pick her," Cabot said. "She hasn't done anything remarkable yet."
It's not the governor's fault that she isn't a good fit in 2012. A governor for less than two years, Haley hasn't had an opportunity to show leadership on an issue that will capture the regional or national attention needed to boost the ticket.
Even as unemployment slowly decreases in the state, Haley's worn shoe-leather courting business won't be enough. She needs job gains that are due directly to a significant measure where Haley's leadership was paramount.
"The burden is on her to do something," Cabot said.
Democratic consultant Tyler Jones with S.C. Forward Progress had a little fun at the Governor's expense Monday, launching IWantToBeVP.com. The parody website frames the governor's upcoming book release and the media appearances as proof of her efforts to get on the 2012 ticket.
"Haley knows she's not going to be VP," Jones said. "But she loves when the media ask her about it."
The governor's book tour, combined with the giddy media speculation over her possible veep nod, plays into a Democratic narrative of a governor not only out of touch with South Carolinians, but also spending too much time out of the state.
"It means she cares about her national ambitions more than about governing South Carolina," Jones said.
Ironically, Jones speculates that Haley's national success is due to the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the governor's 2010 campaign.
If there was anything that would keep Haley off the ticket in 2012, it's the inevitable, and immediate allusions to the McCain campaign's Hail Mary decision to pick Palin, an Alaska governor with little national exposure who was just halfway through her first term.
Palin's troubled national introduction did a lot of damage for the chances of a Republican women, Cabot said. "The first question they'll ask is 'Was she vetted?'"