Governor Nikki Haley has a simple message as she tours the state with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Romney, she tells voters, would be her ally in the White House. He would help her implement immigration and voter ID policies that the Obama administration has fought. He gets it. If you like me, she's saying, you should vote for Romney.
But do South Carolinians like Haley? After cruising into office last year as a new conservative star, Haley has been weathering bad press and bad poll numbers.
A recent Winthrop Poll put the governor's approval rating at a paltry 34.6%. In the past few months she's been accused of improperly influencing a port decision and dictating the conclusions of a health-care implementation committee before it even started meeting.
After a Charleston Post and Courier story questioned the benefit of a trip Haley and staff took to Europe, the governor dismissively called the reporter a "little girl" on local radio. (She later apologised.) Many tea party activists are angry at Haley for endorsing Romney, and are no more inclined to support a candidate they loathe. Others criticise the governor for not creating more jobs.
"It won't help Romney too much because right now Haley is only slightly more popular than head lice," snarked Wesley Donehue, who worked for the campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in South Carolina. Haley dismisses the Winthrop Poll as inaccurate, calling it on Thursday a "local poll".
South Carolina is a state that has heavily favoured Republicans in recent statewide elections.
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