Conservative firebrand Rep. Steve King says he doesn’t think South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley demonstrated she’s a “principled conservative” in her response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Still, the Iowa Republican said he is OK with Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants who is frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick, being the face of the party.
"I think she’s beautiful, so I’d be happy if she’s the face of the party,” King said, according to an Associated Press reporter.
King expressed frustration with Haley’s criticism of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump and his rhetoric on immigration.
During her speech Tuesday night, Haley warned Americans not to listen to the "angriest voices" and described herself as the "proud daughter" of Indian immigrants.
“My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans'. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America," she said.
“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country," Haley added.
Haley confirmed Wednesday morning that her remarks were directed at Trump.
“He was one of them, yes, he was one. There was other people in the media, there’s people in my state. I think we’re seeing it across the country,” Haley said on NBC's "Today" show. “But yes, Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk.”
King, who represents the first state to hold a Republican primary contest this year, accused GOP leaders of shutting real conservatives out of the State of the Union response.
“I’m trying to think of a time when the party has moved somebody forward to give the response who was a conservative,” King said, the 2011 response by his friend and former Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) wasn’t officially sanctioned by party leadership.
Asked if he thinks Haley is not a principled conservative, King replied, “I think the principles that I heard in regard to immigration would indicate that that’s the case.”