SC Gov. Nikki Haley to deliver Republican response to SOTU address

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been tapped to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address next week.

Haley, a rising star within the GOP, grabbed headlines last year for her role in the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds.

"This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities.  I intend to speak about both,” Haley said in a written statement.

Aides to Haley told Fox News she will deliver her GOP address from Columbia, S.C.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the 38-year-old governor as a strong leader who “set a bold agenda for her state, getting things done and becoming one of the most popular governors in America.”

"In a year when the country is crying out for a positive vision and alternative to the status quo, Gov. Haley is the exact right choice to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation,” Ryan said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell added: “Not only has Gov. Haley fought to bring opportunity and prosperity to the people of her state, but she's also demonstrated how bringing people together can bring real results. Gov. Haley knows the American Dream and wants to see every American share in it, and we're pleased that she will be delivering this year's Republican address.”

Haley, an Indian-American in the middle of her second term as governor of South Carolina, is considered by some political insiders as a potential vice presidential candidate for the GOP.

Kendra Stewart, politics professor at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina told that picking Haley is smart strategy by Republicans.

“Parading her out could help temper some of (Donald) Trump's rhetoric that is being criticized as racist and sexist,” Stewart said. “Haley has received a lot of positive press this year and represents what the party is doing right.”