Governor Nikki Haley: "Can't Is Not an Option"

As a Carolina candidate, Nikki Haley faced a sexual smear campaign. Now she's a GOP power broker

by Annie Groer
nikki haley governor image
Photograph: David Allio/Corbis

Nikki Haley has a message for women thinking of running for political office: “Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t become overly cautious.” And, she adds, don’t be discouraged by politics’ dirty side: “It only toughens you for future success.”

To become governor in 2010 (the first in South Carolina to be both female and Indian American), Haley beat three Republicans and a Democrat during a vicious campaign in which she faced sexism, ethnic slurs and unproven allegations of adultery. Now her victory has inspired a memoir, Can’t Is Not an Option.

Beginning with her parents’ struggle to achieve the American Dream, Haley details her path to the governor’s mansion. “When you grow up the daughter of immigrants, there is a different feeling,” says the woman now considered a Republican power player. “They constantly remind you how blessed we 
are to live in this country.”

Click here to read a piece on women campaigning for President.

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Originally published in the April 2012 issue

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