The White House praised Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina Wednesday for having the “courage” to criticize GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
“She was willing to do something that a lot of other Republicans, leading Republicans, have been unwilling to do,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “Her willingness to stand up and speak out against [Mr. Trump’s rhetoric] took some courage.”
In her response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, Ms. Haley criticized “the siren call of the angriest voices” within the GOP. She said Wednesday that she had Mr. Trump in mind when she made the comment.
“Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show.
Mr. Earnest praised the governor for her decision “to actually articulate a commitment to some core American values that some leading Republican presidential candidates are speaking out against.”
“It was rather conspicuous, given the willingness of a lot of other leading Republicans to either ignore it or to try to sweep it under the rug,” Mr. Earnest said. “And in some cases we’ve seen leading Republicans been totally co-opted by it.”
He said the White House doesn’t agree with Ms. Haley on everything, “but her willingness to stand up for some important principles was noted and it took courage, and for that she deserves credit.”
Mr. Trump said on “Fox and Friends” that Ms. Haley “is weak on illegal immigration, and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions.”
“I feel very strongly about illegal immigration,” he said. “She doesn’t, and I think the people in her great state … feel like I do.”