WASHINGTON -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who gave the GOP's response to President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday evening, confirmed on Wednesday that she was talking about businessman Donald Trump when she said Republicans must resist following "the angriest voices" in debates about immigration.
Matt Lauer asked Haley during an appearance on NBC's "Today" if she was referring to the candidate, who has called for a "complete shutdown" of all Muslims entering the United States.
"He was one of them, yes," Haley responded. "A lot of what we're trying to do is say those angry voices are not helpful. If we have citizens who are law-abiding, who love our traditions, who do everything to be productive citizens in America. They should feel welcome in this country."
Lauer pointed out that some conservatives criticized Haley, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, for urging other Republicans to take a less hostile position on immigration. She said in her speech that "we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined" but that "properly vetted" immigrants should be admitted "regardless of their race or religion."
"I'm not saying I believe in illegal immigration, but I do want us to be more inclusive," the governor told Lauer. "Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk."
While Haley blamed Obama for dividing the nation "in ways we've never seen before" on economic issues and national security, she also said Republicans should be more introspective. Her comments to Lauer echoed a point she made in her speech the night before: that Republicans need to admit "there is more than enough blame to go around" for a pervasive distrust of government.
"Republicans need to understand there are things that we could do better that would help strengthen our country, and I think it's important that Republicans look in the mirror and realize we also are to blame," she said.
When asked whether she was hoping to be considered as a vice presidential option by the eventual GOP nominee, Haley offered the typical "I really haven't thought about it" response, but said she "would sit down and talk with anyone that wanted to talk about it."
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