Re: ‘The Persecution of Boeing’

by Robert Costa

On Fox News this morning, Gov. Nikki Haley (R., S.C.) called the Boeing case an “assault on everything we know to be American.”

“This is President Obama and Harry Reid carrying [the unions’] bag, carrying their water, and our companies are hurting because of it,” Haley said. “This is a terrible thing for South Carolina. It’s a terrible thing for our country. And I will tell you: while this happened in South Carolina, I won’t let it happen to any other governor in any other state.”

As Haley makes her case, it’s worth remembering that her vocal, pro-business philosophy is nothing new. Below, you can read the opening paragraphs from “She Means Business,” my profile of her 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

For Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, it all began in a living room in Bamberg, S.C. It was there in 1985 that her father, Ajit Randhawa, a biology professor, and her mother, Raj, enlisted her into the family women’s-apparel business — at age 13. “They had me doing payroll, sales tax, all of that,” she laughs. For her parents, Sikh immigrants from India, that was the Amer­i­can way.

“Looking back, I realize that my parents did not want me to think about the limitations of age, gender, or being In­di­an,” Haley recalls. “They reminded my siblings and me every day about how blessed we were to live in this country. They loved the fact that you could start something, build it, be as successful as you want, and nothing would get in your way.”

In subsequent years, the family’s enterprise, Exotica International, blossomed from a living-room gift shop into a multimillion-dollar upscale retail com­pany selling gowns and jewelry. Much of that success came thanks to Haley, who became Exotica’s chief financial officer after earning an accounting degree at Clemson University. Her small-business experience, she says in her soft southern drawl, is the key to understanding her politics.