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Haley tours Boeing, stays quiet on Senate appointment

By Harriet McLeod
Published Dec. 11, 2012

Gov. Nikki Haley toured Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant in North Charleston today, speaking to Boeing South Carolina vice president and general manager Jack Jones, Boeing workers and reporters, but she did not make an anticipated announcement of who she'll appoint to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint.

DeMint announced last week that he will resign from the U.S. Senate to head The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“I know y’all are here because there is a big, big announcement,” Haley said. “So here we go: We build planes. We build big, mac-daddy planes.”

CNN reported today that Haley has a short list of five names to choose from for the Senate appointment: Rep. Tim Scott; Rep. Trey Gowdy; former state Attorney General Henry McMaster; former S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford; and Catherine Templeton, a Charleston attorney who now heads the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“There are a lot of stories,” Haley responded.

“This is going to be a very dignified process, one in which I vet very carefully because there is a lot at stake,” she said. “When we look at the fiscal cliff, when we look at the fact that we have to protect companies like Boeing, when we look at the fact that debt exists regardless, and when we look at the fact that we have a country that needs to self-correct, there’s a lot of weight with that. Names are thrown out frivolously ... Only my husband knows what’s in my head right now.

“I need to know that philosophically, they will align with South Carolina, from a business standpoint, from a taxpayer standpoint, in reference to health care, in reference to debt ... It’s going to be somebody that goes out there and not going to be a placeholder,” Haley said.

Haley said she wanted to find “that fighter” sooner rather than later, but she didn’t have an actual date when she would name DeMint’s successor. Haley said she did not appoint herself to the Senate seat because she has more to do as governor, two children and a husband who is deploying to Afghanistan soon.

“And to get it out of the way, I’m not running (for the Senate) in 2014, either. So y’all are stuck with me whether you want to or not,” she said.

This was the governor’s first visit to Boeing since the first South Carolina-built 787 Dreamliner rolled out in April.

“I needed to come back because (workers) watched a lot happen with the National Labor Relations Board,” she said. “The people at Boeing need to know that I’m going to take care of them. It is important that they know what they're doing is important to South Carolina.”

“It was a fun day,” Jones said. “ ... This group we have here in South Carolina absolutely loves the governor. They know what the governor’s done for us and they showed it today.”