Washington: Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has endorsed Marco Rubio which will give a major boost to the Florida Senator's presidential ambition ahead of the state's pivotal Republican primary.
"I wanted somebody with fight. I wanted somebody with passion. I wanted somebody that had conviction to do the right thing, but I wanted somebody humble enough that remembers that you work for all the people," Haley said yesterday at Chapin in South Carolina as she announced to endorse Rubio for president.
"I wanted somebody that was going to go and show my parents that the best decision they ever made for their children was coming to America. We say that every day is a great day in South Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, if we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America!" Haley said.
The two-term Republican governor of South Carolina is considered to be a highly popular Republican leader in the country and a potential vice presidential pick.
However, if Rubio bags the party's nomination she is unlikely to be on his ticket because the two leaders are from the same region of the country and both of their parents are immigrants.
"You know that I always say I am the proud daughter of Indian parents. That reminded us every day how blessed we were to live in this country," she said in her brief remarks.
Haley said she wants a president who is going to have the backs of military veterans, and those in active duty.
"I want a president that knows that when we fight wars, we win wars. I want a president that understands we have to stop the federal mandates that have been pushed on the states like Obamacare and the EPA," she said.
"But I want a president who understands that they have to go back to Washington DC and bring a conscience back to our Republicans. Our Republicans need to remember what we are about, which is about balanced budgets, cutting debt, building reserves and making sure that they understand that this guy, he is all about term limits in DC, and that is what we want to see in a president," Haley said.
Haley's endorsement is seen as a big boost for Rubio, but this does not guarantee him a win in South Carolina, despite the fact that the Indian-American is one of the most popular governor's in the state's history.
In 2012 elections, she had endorsed Mitt Romney, the party's eventual nominee. As per the average of all major polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.Com, on average Rubio is currently ranked third with 17.7 per cent, a GOP race which is led by Donald Trump (33.3 per cent) and Ted Cruz (22 per cent).
Even in South Carolina, where the Republican presidential primary is scheduled for Saturday Rubio (16.8 per cent) is placed third after Trump (34.5 per cent) and Cruz (17.3 per cent). "We were excited when we got the word that this was a real possibility," Rubio said after bagging Haley's endorsement.
"For us and for me, I have said this before, and I would say, despite the endorsement I would say this, she represents everything I want the Republican Party to be about: fiscal responsibility, a limited federal government, all the things that our government should be about and all the things our party should be about, she embodies," Rubio said.
The Democratic National Committee National press secretary Mark Paustenbach said given Haley's weak record in South Carolina, her decision to endorse a candidate with little record of his own makes perfect sense.
"It's no surprise Haley feels comfortable lending her name to Rubio, a candidate whose campaign has been desperately trying to hide his own lack of actual accomplishments," he said.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who was hoping to get Haley's endorsement expressed his disappointment over the decision of Haley.