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GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C.: When I looked at everything I knew there was something wrong. And the thing that I knew was wrong was that South Carolina was settling. We were settling for a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican governor.
I won't stop until we get a conservative House, a conservative --
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HANNITY: And that was South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley last night speaking to supporters. Now she came out on top of the GOP primary in that state by a wide margin. However, a crowded field has now forced a runoff. She'll take on South Carolina Congressman Gresham Barrett in a runoff later this month.
Now throughout the primary season Haley has had the backing of both the Tea Party and the top conservatives like Governor Sarah Palin. And she also weathered an extensive smear campaign orchestrated by some of her opponents.
And joining me now is South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.
Congratulations -- what were you, one point shy or two?
HALEY: It was one point. It's painful. Thanks, Sean. It's great to be with you.
HANNITY: Well, we appreciate you being with us. Thanks very much. Yes, I think your race is very interesting because of what you've just said there. You made a very important distinction that I make often: There's a difference between Republicans and conservatives. Are you saying that you're more of a conservative than Republican?
HALEY: What I'm saying is that we've seen a lot of Republicans that have learned the talking points but they haven't learned the conservative actions associated with the talking points.
You know, we are long past the day of electing someone because they look good in a picture or they hold a baby well. If they are not going to fight for the taxpayers, if they are not going to make sure that they understand this is not their money to spend, then we don't need to have them.
It is time that we look at what it means to be conservatives. And that's not bailouts, that's not stimulus packages. It's not Washington. It's prioritizing our spending, understanding that we reward those for being successful, it's about strengthening small businesses, and if you do that you encourage the -- you know, you encourage the economy. It's pretty simple business.
HANNITY: Are you looking at your victory last night and maybe Rand Paul in Kentucky who's going to join us on this program later this week, or what happened to the Tea Party candidate in Nevada that's going to now challenge Harry Reid? Do you look at that as a referendum against both parties and -- evidence of a conservative ascendancy?
HALEY: You know what I think about the Tea Parties is, first of all, they're not a party at all. It is Republicans, independents and Democrats who've said we've had enough and we want to take our government back.
I think the second thing is what you are seeing as the people are no longer going to settle for elected officials thinking that they know better. I think that they are now going to hold their hand to the fire. I think that it's time that we hold elected officials accountable and remind them who it is that they work for.
And part of that is understanding the value of a dollar. And South Carolina, the things that I've pushed for is, I want term limits. I want to make sure that every legislator has to disclose their income so we know exactly who's paying them. And I want every legislator to have to vote on the record which is not happening in South Carolina in a 2 1/2 year fight that I've had.
The Tea Parties are great because they are getting people to understand the power of their voice. Government belongs to the people. And we need to go back to that. You know our founding fathers said it should be families first, then communities then state, then federal.
We have watched that turn completely upside down. We need to go back to where we are supposed to be.
HANNITY: How important do you think Governor Palin's endorsement of you was?
HALEY: You know, it was interesting because we had no name -- no name ID, no money, and certainly going up against the congressman and attorney general and lieutenant governor. It was big hill to climb.
But we saw was we went out and we told the people if you like what we have to say go tell 10 people and they did. And those 10 people told some more. So we had seen that we were rising in the polls but certainly when Governor Palin came it really took us over the top in terms of getting some credibility, getting people to exactly know who Nikki Haley was.
And it's certainly helped when, you know, when we went from Nikki Who to Nikki Haley and people paying attention more to the message. It was great. I'm very grateful to her.
HANNITY: The media paid so much attention in the final weeks leading up to this campaign. You had these allegations -- a direct allegation that were you involved in an affair. And you came out and you said absolutely, positively, 100 percent no.
Do you think in light of what people have lived through Bill Clinton and Sanford and others, that -- did you worry that that might have an impact on the race and what was that like for you personally?
HALEY: You know, I think that what we saw was, you know, we went from Nikki Who to suddenly seeing that we went up double digits in the polls, which not only shocked the opponents it shocked us. We didn't necessarily see this coming and when it did I think the opponents went into overdrive. It was always me versus the establishment and I think the establishment came out kicking.
What I was determined to do was not be distracted, which is what they were hoping would happen. And I stayed very much on message and said that this is not what the people of South Carolina want to talk about. They want to talk about taxes. They want to talk about jobs. They want to talk about what we're going to do with the economy. And they want to know that government understands the value of a dollar.
The allegations weren't true. I said that. And then I moved right back on to my message. All it did was make me more determined to keep on fighting.
HANNITY: All right. Well, we wish -- we're going to follow this race very closely. At one point, it's tough in the political business. We appreciate you being with us. Thank you, Nikki Haley. Good luck in the campaign. Thanks for being with us.
HALEY: Thank -- thank you so much. And send everybody to NikkiHaley.com. We'd love to see them.
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