(CNN) - Less than two days after South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley captured her party's gubernatorial nomination, the state GOP has begun an effort to cast her rival as "a liberal in a moderate's clothes."
Haley will face off in November against Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. In a statement Thursday, the head of the South Carolina GOP took issue with Sheheen's views on illegal immigration as just one example of what the state party says is a larger pattern with the candidate.
"When it comes to illegal immigration, Senator Sheheen was too busy trying to appease ultra liberals to realize that South Carolinians expect tough action," South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd said in a written statement.
"Unfortunately, this is part of a larger pattern with Senator Sheheen – a voting record that doesn't reflect South Carolina values, and instead follows the Washington liberal model of more government, more spending and more debt."
Floyd added, "Senator Sheheen is a liberal in moderate's clothes. But we are going to make sure that voters know the truth about his voting record come November. Today is just the tip of the iceberg."
A representative for Sheheen hit back hard and sought to link Haley to South Carolina's current Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.
"Vincent Sheheen voted for the toughest immigration bill South Carolina has ever seen and one of the toughest in the nation," Sheheen spokesman Trav Robertson said to CNN in an e-mail. "Most importantly he favors and supports strict enforcement of this law. Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford simply can't tell the truth anymore."
Robertson also said, "We deserve better than the failed leadership of Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford."
Speaking Wednesday with CNN's John King, Haley praised Arizona's tough, controversial immigration law which has caught the attention of President Obama himself.
"What we saw Arizona do was say, we can't wait on the federal government anymore. We're going to go ahead and turn around and protect our state," Haley said on CNN's John King, USA. "I applaud what Arizona did. I applaud the governor. And I think that every state in the country is going to turn around and start looking at what they need to do to take care of themselves. I think that's part of states' rights and that's what we want to do."