- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will call for amicable political disagreement in her sixth State of the State address Wednesday as she continues the message of her State of the Union response.

Haley’s address to state legislators will draw unusual national scrutiny a week after her Republican response to President Barack Obama cast her as the GOP’s moderate voice and fueled speculation she could be on the presidential ticket.

The speech follows a historic year for South Carolina, when a massacre at a historic black church that left a legislator dead resulted in the removal of the Confederate flag that had flown on Statehouse grounds for 54 years. The suspect in the shooting, Dylann Roof, had posed for photos with a rebel flag.

Haley attended funerals for all nine victims and drew wide praise for successfully calling for the rebel flag to be sent to a museum. It came down within weeks of the shooting, after years of politicians in both parties - including Haley - avoiding the issue entirely. Victims included the Charleston church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

Haley, who has said the shooting will forever change her, will ask legislators to follow their slain colleague’s example.

“I knew him to be a man who never seemed to speak against anyone or anything, but instead to advocate for the people and the ideas that he believed in,” she will say, according to an excerpt of her prepared remarks provided to The Associated Press.

“The building we sit in invites disagreement. That is a good thing, a healthy thing,” the excerpt continues. “But disagreement does not have to mean division. Honest policy differences do not need to morph into personal dislike, distrust, and disillusion.”

State legislators of both parties have thrown barbs at Haley in the past. But Haley’s contributed to the rancor, too.

Last year, Haley incensed legislators by suggesting people need to take a shower after talking to them, telling a group of real estate agents that they should “take a good shower” after leaving the Statehouse.

She will make her plea Wednesday to legislators a week after she cautioned a national audience against listening to the “siren call of the angriest voices.”

Her comments were quickly praised by party leaders but derided by Donald Trump fans and some conservative commentators. Haley acknowledged afterward she was referring to the Republican front-runner, particularly his call to temporarily ban all Muslims from coming to the United States. But Haley insisted she was also talking about “the yelling and the riots” that South Carolina avoided after taxing events.

She called South Carolina an example of how tragedies should be confronted. Beyond the shooting at “Mother Emanuel” African Methodist Episcopal Church, she pointed to the officer shooting of an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston and last fall’s catastrophic flooding.

The link between all, she said, was the reaction by South Carolinians.

“They didn’t turn against each other. They turned toward each other. They didn’t try to become angry and look for someone to blame. They tried to figure out how they could be part of the solution,” Haley told reporters last week.

She is expected to again praise the state’s response Wednesday, as she gives the address on her 44th birthday.

At the GOP debate last week in North Charleston, Trump said he took no offense to Haley’s remarks.

The nation’s youngest governor said Friday she would’ve preferred not to be mentioned on the national debate stage.

“But if my speech causes a conversation about how we treat people in this country and the difference between illegal immigration and legal immigration, that’s a healthy conversation to have,” said Haley, the South Carolina-born daughter of Indian immigrants who proudly touts that South Carolina has one of the nation’s toughest laws against people not legally in the country.

While Haley’s speech last week further boosted speculation of a vice presidential nod, she again dismissed the idea.

“My life is full. I’m very content. It’s not something I want, I strive for or I need,” said Haley, noting that her daughter heads to college next year and her son is in middle school.


This story has been corrected to show that this is Haley’s sixth state of state address rather than the fifth.

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