By Luke Thompson
Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley championed small government and comprehensive tax reform during a $500-a-couple fundraiser on the banks of the May River Thursday night in Bluffton.
Haley, who spoke to a crowd of about 50 for about 10 minutes in the backyard ofBill and Nancy Roe, said that if elected, she intends to create a plan that would eliminate the small business tax and take a close look at South Carolina's tax system as a whole. Haley said such reform is needed to allow small businesses to hire more workers and lower the state's 11 percent unemployment rate for August, which was the sixth highest in the country, according to preliminary statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
"It's the reason we have to have comprehensive tax reform," Haley said of the jobless rate.
The Bamberg native, who represents the 87th District in Lexington County, said states should be wary of accepting money from the federal government for business and programs such as health care reform. She advocated the formation of a coalition of governors that would stand firm against policies from Washington which it opposes.
"We've got to be willing to fight back against the federal government," Haley said to cheers from the crowd.
As alternatives to the federal health care reform law, she said she would work to pass tort reform, making it more difficult for injured people to win large lawsuits. She also voiced her support for the Republican proposal to allow health care companies to cross state lines in order to provide more competition for buyers.
With less than six weeks until the Nov. 2 general election, when she'll face Vincent Sheheen, a Democratic senator from Camden, Haley said she hopes to get around the state and meet as many people as possible.
Even though state senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, who hosted the event and introduced the candidate, said Haley leads by about 15 percent in the latest polls, she reminded the crowd that she began the Republican primaries as a heavy underdog against U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett of Westminster, among others.
Haley urged the crowd to continue the "grassroots movement" that helped her gain the nomination, and reminded them that the movement should focus on its ideals of lower taxes and less government, rather than a single politician.