Nikki Haley on Racism and Trump’s Rhetoric: ‘I Know What That Rhetoric Can Do’

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks to the crowd at the Kemp Forum, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.
AP Photo/Sean Rayford
Washington, DC

Nearing the first anniversary of a mass shooting of African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the state’s Republican  governor is criticizing presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

“I know what that rhetoric can do. I saw it happen,” Republican Gov. Nikki Haley stated during a recent interview, suggesting Trump’s rhetoric is divisive as she discussed race relations in her state.

Trump won Haley’s state easily in the GOP primary in February, winning nearly almost every county. Haley, who endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in that race, repeatedly criticized Trump.

Haley says Trump supporters aren’t racists.

“That’s a different kind of anger. They’re upset with Washington, D.C. They’re upset nothing’s got done,” Haley said. “The way he communicates that, I wish were different.”

“Trump has a responsibility for the country’s well-being to use a civil, respectful tone, she told reporters two weeks ahead of the anniversary of the Emanuel shooting,” The Charlotte Observer reports.

Haley successfully urged the South Carolina Legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse and place it in a museum following the mass shooting.

However, after a recent debate over changing the name of an historic building, Haley rejected the idea. She argues the flag was a “living” and “breathing” symbol unlike a building, as reported by The Charlotte Observer.

She still opposes exceptions beyond the chapel’s flag, including renaming Tillman Hall at her alma mater, Clemson University, as many students have requested. The building is named for a Clemson founder — a former governor and U.S. senator who bragged about killing black people.

“We can’t go and start changing everything. … The difference with the flag was it was a flying, living, breathing representative symbol,” Haley said. “I don’t see that in buildings and street signs.”