Washington (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that she will not support Jon Huntsman's Republican presidential bid, a serious blow to the former Utah governor's chances in the key early primary state.
"Naturally, I am going to go with someone that philosophically I agree with, and Jon Huntsman is not it," Haley told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.
Huntsman has the largest political operation of any presidential campaign in South Carolina and has made the state a central part of his Republican nomination strategy along with New Hampshire and Florida.
Richard Quinn, a veteran Columbia-based strategist with deep ties to the political establishment there, is also one of Huntsman's senior-most advisers.
Haley met with Huntsman at the South Carolina State House in May and discussed his recently concluded ambassadorship to China and the view of the American economy from overseas.
It was a friendly and productive meeting by nearly every account, but apparently not enough to win over the tea party-friendly governor.
"If you talk to him about things he knows about, China and the economy, yes, that's great stuff," Haley said Thursday. "But what I really want to get is a strong conservative that understands jobs and the economy matter, and it's not what we say, it's what we do, and how are we going to fix this?"
Asked if she was definitively ruling out a Huntsman endorsement, Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey said simply: "The governor's words speak for themselves."
Spokesman Tim Miller responded to the news saying, "On the issue that matters most to South Carolina, creating jobs, Gov. Huntsman has offered the most conservative, pro-growth plan and has the best record to back it up. We are proud to have the strongest team of supporters in South Carolina as a result of that record and message."
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has a loyal following among conservatives both nationally and in his home state, is probably the most sought after endorser of the 2012 primary cycle in South Carolina, but Haley ranks a close second.
She has met privately with most of the Republican candidates and even invited them to bunk at the governor's mansion when passing through town.
Haley has promised to endorse before the primary but has been less than enthusiastic about the Republican field.
Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate in California changed all that, Haley told Ingraham.
"I was very nervous for a long time because I just wasn't feeling it," she said. "And after watching that debate last night, that's what I needed to see. I needed to see that they were getting down into the issues. I needed to see the strong debate back and forth."
Nikki needs to see what the kingmaker DeMint does, and will do the same. It looks like Huntsman, Newt, Bachmann, Cain, Paul, and Santorum are wasting big corporations money by staying in the race.
Huntsman should be relieved. Come 2012, a Tea Party endorsement will be like GWB endorsement in 2008.
Good for Huntsman !
in other words, she is going to support another right wing nutcase.
Why is that a surprise. I don't even need to read the article. As if she would endorse against DeMint. Jesus!! What a circus. Where's Alvin Greene when you need him. Oh, I know. Waiting for the next pay day.
Haley's approval ratings are in the toilet - she just wants to be seen as relevant, which she isn't.
A TEAhadists endorsement is a kiss of death. I'm Mr. Huntsman can do without that.
Huntsman makes more sense than all the other retardicans who are running
Still do not understand why Huntsman wants to become President! Some think he is the “smartest” GOP candidate in the field. He sure is not when he thinks he could be a successful President with THAT lunatic GOP/TP crowd behind him. But, perhaps his soul is not that different from there’s? Bashing, lying, obstructing, no solutions – greed over people?
Huntsman isn't enough of a war-mongering science hater for Governor Haley.
He should be proud of being too intelligent, too competent, and too diplomatic for her toxic taste.
"a serious blow to the former Utah governor's chances in the key early primary state"?!?
Yeah right. Her endorsement is a negative thing here... no matter what you fancy CNN boys say.
She'll support Perry.
Nicky Haley will become irrelevant. If it;'s not Huntsman then the GOP is giving Obama a free ride. Who else in the GOP lineup can win the moderate middle; possibly Romney but he has his flip flopping problems. I was hoping for Perry and Bachman to cancel out the TP influence and leave it to the adults to decide who gets the nomination.
If the GOP holds out for their most conservative candidate they will give it to Obama.
Of course the Tea people hate him. He's the most intelligent Republican running and they hate smart people.
Can't go for Huntsman...the man makes too much sense. Goodness, can these people make themselves look even more ridiculous?
When you’re smart you can’t run for office if you run we won’t support you that simple
I think Gov. Nikki Haley heard Obama’s prayer
I will almost assuredly vote in the upcoming GOP primary, and while voting for the most out-there crazy nutjob in the bunch appeals to me, the idea of actually supporting a Republican because of his views also has some appeal, in the interest of abandoning the childish schoolyard booger fight that our national polity has become. Huntsman is the ONLY Republican candidate worth listening to, at all...here's a guy that doesn't reject science, isn't a complete blind ideologue and seems to have a modicum of sense and goodwill.
The sad thing is that he can't even win the primary, because Republicans are too self-assured and self-righteous to admit when they've taken it too far. Case in point: Nikki Haley.
Amazingly Huntsman was one of the only ones on that stage last night I would consider voting for.
To bad Huntsman isn't getting the support and recognizition he deserves – That's what he gets for being the intelligent, educated, internationally experienced diplomat in a party that applauds like it's the Roman Gladiator Games when P.Rick Perry defends his "no governor's reprieves" and the fast track to the needle gurney policies they have in Texass.
Hey South Carolina. If you're going to let Nikki Haley tell you who not to vote for, and not think for yourselves, you will get what you deserve.
Another prime example of TP goofiness. As an independent Huntsman is the only one in this roster I would vote for in the general. Go Rick go!
has she shown her long form birth certificate yet, if not then WHY NOT??
Gov. Nikki Haley is another puppet for the Tea Party..she will support who ever her handlers recommend. Keep in mind this iwoman is of East Indian heritage yet claims to be White. Your friend Bachmann is in the bottom tier, maybe Perry will get there soon. What a joke .....
"But what I really want to get is a strong conservative that understands jobs and the economy matter, and it's not what we say, it's what we do, and how are we going to fix this?" Which other candidate has both a plan and a record to fix the economy? Disagreeing with Huntsman on science and gay rights is one thing but ruling him out based upon his economic stance shows you care more about rhetoric then solutions – precisely what the tea baggers stand for.
I'll be voting for President Obama come November next year, but just wanted you give you a little information. The lack of endorsement from Governor Haley from South Carolina will probably help you more in SC than hurt you. You see, nobody here believes Tricky Nicki anyway. She has just about destroyed any credibility she may have once had. Everyone here is just wishing she would go on one of her taxpayer financed trips and not come back. So when you come to SC, remember to mention that Nicki Haley doesn't endorse you as often as possible. Your poll numbers will skyrocket. Thanks for your attention.