The Corner

Romney Leaves a Governor Behind in South Carolina

If Mitt Romney was the biggest loser from tonight’s South Carolina primary, then Gov. Nikki Haley was a close second. The two could hardly have been glued together more on the campaign trail — Romney even sang “Happy Birthday” to the governor on stage during a rally early this week.

Haley endorsed Romney early on, and her support was touted as a game-changer by strategists in his Boston headquarters. But those closer to the ground in the Palmetto State warned Romney people that the Haley endorsement came with baggage.

Former governor Mark Sanford, her immediate predecessor and political mentor, was neutral in the primary. But he said last month that he wondered “if she’ll be more of a liability to Romney than she is an asset. She’s taken her eye off the ball and lost focus.”

Tea-party leaders I spoke with said the governor has dropped her original emphasis on cutting government spending and accommodated herself to the legislative barons who used to clash with Governor Sanford.

Recent polls have shown Haley hovering around the 40 percent mark in public approval, and there is evidence her bonding with Romney was of no help.

A Monmouth University poll earlier this week found that 89 percent of likely voters were familiar with the governor’s endorsement of Romney. So far so good. But 71 percent said it made no difference in deciding whom to vote for. Of the rest, 21 percent said the endorsement made them less likely to pull the lever for Mitt, and only 8 percent said it made them more likely.

Governor Romney’s campaign will now leave this poor South Carolina primary showing in the rear-view mirror as it heads to Florida. But Governor Haley is only a year into her term and looking increasingly adrift and vulnerable. Maybe it’s time she sat down with the tea-party leaders who helped propel her to a surprising victory in the 2010 governor’s race and saw what can be done to reset her administration.

Most Popular

Economy & Business

The Swamp: Navarro Nucor Edition

The Wall Street Journal has a story today about the ties between President Trump's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and the biggest steel company in the U.S. -- Nucor Corp. It is particularly interesting in light of the stiff steel tariffs successfully pushed by Navarro, which he championed ever since he joined the ... Read More


EMPIRICAL   As I can fathom neither endlessness nor the miracle work of deities, I hypothesize, assume, and guess.   The fact that I love you and you love me is all I can prove and proves me. — This poem appears in the April 2 print issue of National Review. Read More

Nancy MacLean Won’t Quit

One of the biggest intellectual jousting matches last year was between Duke history professor Nancy MacLean, who wrote a slimy, dishonest book about Nobel Prize–winning economist James Buchanan and the whole limited-government movement, and the many scholars who blasted holes in it. If it had been a boxing ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Rolling Back Dodd-Frank

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would roll back parts of Dodd-Frank. The vote was 67–31, with 17 members of the Democratic caucus breaking party lines. If the legislation passes the House and is signed, it will be the largest change to the controversial financial-reform package since it became law in ... Read More

How Germany Vets Its Refugees

At the height of the influx of refugees into Germany in 2015–17, there was little doubt that mixed among the worthy cases were economic migrants taking advantage of the chaos to seek their fortunes in Europe. Perhaps out of instinctive pro-immigrant sentiment, Germany’s Left obscured the difference. Its ... Read More