- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has been busy trying to close her state’s $700 million budget gap, but she has found time for a more personal project, jotting down thoughts and memories during quiet moments in the early morning, late at night and on weekends.

She is writing a memoir.

“I will tell you that since the election it was amazing the number of people of people who wanted to know my story, about the challenges of growing up and the challenges of running for office and what got me through it,” the 39-year-old Republican, the nation’s youngest governor, told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview.

Haley is part of a wave of tea party favorites voted in last fall. She’s the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India who grew up in rural South Carolina and became the first female governor of her state and the second Indian-American governor in history after fellow Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Her election alone could fill several chapters: She started out as an underdog against three fellow Republicans in the primary, only to prevail despite a sometimes vicious campaign that included allegations she had had extramarital affairs.

Memoirs are almost a rite of passage for White House hopefuls, and she has retained the man who negotiated deals for the last three presidents: Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Barnett. But Haley says she has no plans to seek higher office.

“Whenever somebody wants to tell their story, it’s not always because they’re seeking to move up to a further position,” she says. “It’s because they truly have a story to tell.” Haley said using the book, which is untitled and which publishers have yet to see, for a national candidacy was “the opposite” of what she wanted. Instead, she hopes to inspire readers _ “regular people” _ to participate in politics and run for office.

Haley says the memoir will, and must, cover good times and bad times. She will address the allegations of infidelity _ which she has denied _ and another campaign controversy: why Haley, who has a degree in accounting, has frequently paid fees for not paying her income taxes on time. “It’s going to talk about all aspects of my personal life, and my political life,” she says of her book.

She began writing a few weeks ago and calls the process “therapeutic.” Once she began the book, “feelings and emotions” came out, about what her parents taught her about “being different” and about why she wanted to run for governor.

“This is good for me,” she says, “to be able to talk about how I got through things.”

Because she doesn’t want her book to interfere with her job, Haley says she will have help with the writing but plans to be deeply involved.

“When I take on a project, I want to do it right or I don’t want to do it at all,” she says. “It has to be me, putting my thoughts in there, my emotions in there.”

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