Fresh off her breakout moment on the national stage Tuesday evening, where she delivered a pitch-perfect rebuttal to nativism in her response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) decided to stick a shiv into the aspirations of one of her party's top presidential candidates.
During a press conference Wednesday, Haley said her message of inclusivity toward immigrants applies to other candidates and not only those named Donald Trump.
"We want to move America forward," she said. "Having said that, there are other things other presidential candidates have said. And when I see something wrong, I say it."
The aside prompted one reporter to ask whether the governor was possibly referring to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Haley, however, let fly instead against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
"I have disagreements," Haley said. "Jeb Bush passed Common Core. Marco Rubio believes in amnesty, which I don't. There's lots of things. But I will say tone matters, message matters and responsibility matters. As we go forward, we need to be responsible in your message if we truly want to get anything done."
Haley has yet to endorse a candidate in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, but her hitch-free performance Tuesday evening instantly boosted speculation that she might be added to a 2016 vice presidential ticket -- possibly even joining Rubio, who is working to position himself as the candidate of a new generation.
The swipe against Rubio's immigration record comes at an inopportune time for the senator. His campaign and super PACs are engaged in an all-out brawl with several candidates, including Cruz and Bush, over Rubio's shifting stance on immigration. While he once supported a path to citizenship, Rubio now says the U.S. ought to bolster border security before addressing the fate of undocumented immigrants. Like Bush, Rubio has left the door open to a path to legal status. Cruz, however, opposes both citizenship and legalization for undocumented immigrants, which he terms "amnesty."
Haley's quote, and the corresponding video clip, are almost certain to appear in an ad for at least one of Rubio's rivals as the race barrels toward the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.
UPDATE: 7:36 p.m. -- In an interview on Fox News, Haley clarified her comments, admitting that she misspoke about the details of Rubio's position.
"What I said was that I didn't agree with him," Haley said. "What I meant what I didn't agree with him on was the Gang of Eight bill. I said he wasn't for amnesty. That's not what I meant. What I meant was he supported the Gang of Eight bill, and I did not."
Also on HuffPost: