Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina will give the Republican Party's official response to President Barack Obama's last annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
The opportunity to give the official response has traditionally been reserved for rising stars within the party ranks, and Haley undoubtedly fits that criteria.
Gathered below are 13 things to know about Nikki Haley and her State of the Union response.
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1. She is the youngest governor in the nation
— Haley, formerly a state representative from the suburbs of Columbia, was elected to the governor's office in 2010 at age 38. Currently, at age 43, she is the youngest governor. In total, there are six governors in their 40s, including fellow Republicans Matt Bevin, 49, of Kentucky and Scott Walker, 48, of Wisconsin.
2. She exemplifies the American Dream —
Haley was born in Bamberg, South Carolina, to an immigrant couple originally from the Punjab region of India. Her parents ran a clothing store in the small town, and she began working there at age 13. She went on to study accounting at Clemson University.
3. She is the first female governor of South Carolina
— The Palmetto State had never elected a female to the highest executive office in the state until it elected Haley in 2010.
4. She is the first minority governor of South Carolina
— Following the tenure of Gov. Mark Sanford, who was term-limited out of office, the voters of South Carolina elected their first-ever governor of color, Haley.
5. She is the nation's second Indian-American governor
— Former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who served as the 55th Governor of Louisiana from 2008 to 2016, was the nation's first Indian-American governor. Haley is the nation's second.
6. She is a two-term governor
— Haley won re-election by a 14-point landslide in 2014. The Greenville News reported
at the time that, "The GOP governor, who beat Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen in 2010 by 4.5 points, almost tripled that margin Tuesday night with a 55.9 percent to 41.3 percent win in a rematch with Sheheen, according to unofficial returns posted by the State Election Commission."
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7. She is affiliated with the Tea Party movement
— "Once seen as an outsider and a tea party upstart," CNN explained
, "her relentless focus on jobs has allowed her to promote herself with the business wing of the GOP."
8. She is a true conservative
— "The governor signed off on some of the strictest immigration laws in the country, took a stand against Syrian refugees, resisted calls for gun control in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, and has voiced criticism of Black Lives Matter," The Atlantic reported
Tuesday. "Haley has the potential to elevate an agenda that mirrors some of the most conservative stances of the Republican 2016 field."
9. She handled the Confederate flag controversy masterfully
— Haley's Democratic challenger raised the issue of removing the Confederate flag from the state's capitol during election season, but she declined to engage on the issue, saying simply that corporate interests she wished to draw to the state were not bothered by it.
After Dylann Roof, an apparent white supremacist often pictured with the flag, shot and killed nine members of a predominantly black church in Charleston, however, Haley reconsidered. The local Chamber of Commerce and business leaders expressed concern about the state's perception, and the issue was becoming a problem for the national Republican Party. "Haley seized the moment, proving that she could act decisively to take a potential political problem off the table for her party. Removing the flag satisfied the public demand for action. It also directed the conservation away from gun control, a debate the GOP was eager to avoid," The Atlantic reported.
10. She is a Christian who honors her Sikh roots
— Haley was raised Sikh, and she and her husband Michael, whom she met at Clemson University, had both Sikh and Methodist wedding ceremonies, NPR reported
. She was baptized in the Methodist Church, and identifies as Christian.
11. She refuses to mudsling
— During her re-election campaign, Haley was accused of infidelity by her opponents, but rose above it and won in a landslide. "There were allegations of infidelity that had no credibility, or nothing really backing them up, when she was initially running. There were accusations of ethics violations from her time serving in the South Carolina Legislature, and nothing ever came from those, either," explained Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon, NPR reported. "Everywhere we've seen smoke, so far there has been no fire."
12. She is a family woman
— Haley has been married to her husband Michael since 1996. They have two children, Rena, 17, and Nalin, 14, The Daily Signal reported
13. She has been praised widely within the GOP
— Ahead of her SOTU response, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told CNN
, "I think she's a great spokesman for our party, I think the future is extremely bright for Nikki and that's why we asked her to do it."
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