Nikki Haley is the Republican governor of South Carolina, and is in the midst of running for re-election against Democrat Vincent Sheehan. During the gubernatorial debate on Tuesday night, the issue of the confederate flag — currently flown on the lawn of the South Carolina Statehouse — was discussed.
Sheehan argued in favor of reverting to simply the American flag and South Carolinian state flag, suggesting that the confederate flag should be retired to a museum.
Haley responded in defense of flying the flag on the Statehouse grounds, arguing that her presence as the state's first Indian-American governor — and the election of African-American Tim Scott to the Senate from South Carolina — indicates that the painful racist history associated with the flag is now "fixed."
But it was her additional defense that stirred controversy. Haley stated that she has frequently talked with CEOs about bringing jobs to South Carolina, and that none of these CEOs have yet complained about the flag.
The South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC
Specifically, she said: “What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
She also referred to the flag as a "sensitive issue" for South Carolinians.
These comments struck a number of left-wing bloggers as peculiar, especially considering that, if Haley is having discussions with CEOs about bringing jobs to South Carolina, surely these CEOs are currently OUT OF STATE. And what does it matter if businesspeople from other states think about the confederate flag?
Independent candidate Steve French, also present at the debate, countered that he DID believe that the presence of the confederate flag keeps businesses and jobs out of South Carolina. It makes the state seem like a “backwoods good ol’ boy network," he argued.