While South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was praised in many quarters for the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, she also received strong criticism from some conservatives for her pointed remarks aimed at Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
In her response, while criticizing Obama on a number of issues, Haley also made a series of apparent references to Trump, including calling on Americans to ignore “the angriest voices” on the subject of immigration.
"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation," Haley said
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference,” she said.
On NBC’s "Today" show Wednesday, Haley acknowledged that she was, in fact, referring to Trump among others.
"Yes, Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk," she said.
Haley later appeared on Fox News’ “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren and said while she considers Trump “a friend,” she does disagree with him.
“I disagree with the fact that he wants to start using religion as a way to divide people,” she said, referring to Trump calling for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
“I just want him to understand that this country is made up of immigrants, we want to make sure they’re properly vetted and they come here legally,” Haley said.
Trump earlier had fired back on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday, calling Haley “very weak on illegal immigration.”
"She's very weak on illegal immigration…and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions because over the years she’s asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions," he said.
When asked if he would pick her as a running mate, Trump said, “I wouldn’t say she is off to a good start.”
While many pundits in the media and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., praised Haley's speech, with some saying it has marked her as a potential candidate for vice president, other conservative voices weren’t so happy with Haley taking aim at a Republican presidential candidate.
Talk radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham tweeted that Haley missed a golden opportunity to stand with working Americans on the subject of immigration.
Too bad @NikkiHaley missed her oppty to stand w/ working ppl who want borders enforced, American workers put first, govt shrunk.— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) January 13, 2016
She also blasted her for being the voice of the Republican establishment.
Establishment fave Haley put up its own wall in rebuttal...but it was more of a rebuttal to @realDonaldTrump than to Obama.— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) January 13, 2016
Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh also was not impressed. While he said he was an admirer of Haley, he hailed the speech as proof that the Republican establishment is trying to drive conservatives out of the party and define who is qualified to be a Republican.
“For one thing, it's almost absolute proof of what I have been saying for last couple years now, that the Republican Party's trying to drive conservatives out of the party," Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday.
"But I think it's more than that. It's certainly that, but her speech last night sort of expanded the theme of who is and who isn't qualified to be a Republican, and the Republican Party is still anti-conservative,” Limbaugh said.
Conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter criticized Haley using a similar tone, accusing her of wanting to shut up voters.
Coulter even went so far as to tweet "Trump should deport Nikki Haley."