Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – As oil continues to gush from the worst environmental disaster in the nation's history, South Carolina Republican gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley said on Monday that she would support oil drilling off her state's coast as governor.
"But before we go forward I think we need to be very careful going forward that we know exactly what we're walking into and how we're going to do that," she added.
The rising conservative star is widely expected to win Tuesday's run-off with Republican congressman Gresham Barrett. Joined by her husband at a brief campaign stop in Florence, Haley referred to the barrage of personal attacks against her during the campaign.
"It has been a brutal few weeks leading up to the primary. We have had a lot to go through," Haley said. The 38-year-old has denied two separate allegations of extra-marital affairs. She's also faced ethnic slurs and questions about her religion. Haley, who is Indian-American, converted to Christianity in her 20's after growing up in the Sikh faith.
In an interview with CNN, Haley said she wouldn't wish accusations of infidelity on "her worst enemy." But in light of the sex scandal that nearly brought down current South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Haley said the public had a right to answers about her marriage.
"I think public officials have to answer to the voters. What's sad is when public officials have to answer to negative false accusations. That's where all this went wrong. There was no proof, nothing that validated it. Yet all of the sudden it became a story," Haley said.
Instead, she hopes for a victory that will change South Carolina's cut-throat political climate. "I think everybody will look back at this election as what not to do," Haley added.
Long-time political observers in the state believe the attacks against Haley actually helped her campaign. "It obviously backfired at the polls," said former South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson. He added, "Republican primary voters will only tolerate so much."
Barrett, who campaigned across the state before Tuesday's run-off, has a new ad saying he won't "embarrass" South Carolina voters.