The official Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address offered the party’s attempt to not only attract a younger, more diverse electorate, but also to redirect the populist anger that is rippling through the country toward more positive pursuits.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina is no Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner in the presidential campaign. The Indian American daughter of immigrants broke new ground by suggesting the GOP should take its share of responsibility for Washington's problems, and then try to fix them.
“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves, while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around,” Haley said.
“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken. And then we need to fix it.”
Haley’s stature has grown during her two terms leading the Palmetto State, a conservative bastion that saw the deadly racially motivated shooting last year in Charleston, and she was tapped by GOP leaders to present a new face of the party amid the campaign to retake the White House.
Like Obama, she offered a veiled criticism of GOP front-runner Donald Trump's divisive policies and rhetoric. Without naming names, Haley warned of the most heated voices in politics, and delivered a message of hopeful, if pragmatic, cooperation.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” she said.
She outlined a standard to-do list for the party – lower taxes, repeal Obamacare, defend gun rights and support a robust national security presence.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”