Nikki Haley at GOP Debate at Francis Marion University
Florence, SC (WLTX) - Just one week from the primary, the four Republican candidates hoping to be your next governor debated the issues in Florence. But the issue that was front and center was the controversy involving Nikki Haley.
Last week former Sanford spokesman Will Folks wrote on his website, FITSnews, that he had an inappropriate relationship with the GOP frontrunner - something Haley says isn't true.
Tuesday night in Florence, she once again denied Folks' statements.
The candidates were asked several questions each, most of which related to something specific to their campaign. For Haley, the first question was how the issues in her personal life would affect her role as governor if elected. "The questions raised about my personal life aren't true. You know, it's funny to see how no questions were brought up until two weeks prior to the election and when I suddenly became double leader in the polls. I mean, I think anybody will tell you that everything I have done in the General assembly has been to push for accountabilty. I will tell you that my husband and I have been faithful for 13 years. I think this is sad, that this is South Carolina politics at its worst. I was called by Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford and all three told me this is what happens when you start to lead and it won't get any better you just fight your way through," she told the audience.
The other three candidates were also given an opportunity to respond. While some talked of their own experience with personal attacks, others focused on what kind of person the governor should be.
"Well, actually, having run against a governor's son, having run against members of the legislature and against the establishment all my life, they've always supported somebody else. They've pretty much gone after every little bit of my personal life that's been out there, so I don't know what else is left," responded Andre Bauer.
Gresham Barrett said, "You know, I abhor what's happening to Nikki Haley. To me with third parties, I mean, it has no place in South Carolina. South Carolinians deserve better and expect more. But unfortunately, character does matter. My dad told me early on, it's not one of the things that matter, it's the only thing that matters. And if there's ever been a time in our history, ladies and gentlemen, where we need leaders above reproach, it's today. Because people look, people pay attention, and we've got to turn the page in South Carolina."
Lastly, Henry McMaster told the audience, "Well, the governor of the people is always under a microscope and you have to be, you have to do the right thing. We've all been subject to unfounded personal attacks. I've got one newspaper in Columbia that's been following my children around for a couple of weeks now, trying to find something. Unfortunately, Nikki, as you know, it is a part of politics, but it should not be. I tell you what, if the governor does the right thing, if you stand for the people, and you try to attack the problems that we have and work hard, we'll be all right."
After tonight's debate, we tried to catch up with Haley. But she left the building without taking to anyone in attendance or reporters who were covering the event.