South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said President Obama made the fight over the National Labor Relations Board's lawsuit against Boeing political, not her.
"The president is the one who made this political," the first-term GOP governor said in response to a question from The Hill.
"When they stop suing companies that are trying to create jobs, we'll be quiet," Haley continued. "But as long as they're going to turn around and try to bully people, it's our job to make sure our voices are heard."
The NLRB's complaint against Boeing alleges that the company decided to build a plant to produce 787 airplanes in South Carolina in retaliation for labor strikes by workers at its Puget Sound plant near Seattle. Boeing filed a motion to dismiss the case this week. A hearing on the suit is expected to last for several weeks.
Haley memorably asked GOP presidential candidates debating in her state to weigh in on the issue. Republicans eager to curry favor in the crucial early primary state happily obliged, arguing that the complaint showed the Obama administration was too beholden to labor unions.
But speaking on a conference call with reporters Thursday, Haley said she was protecting jobs in her state, not trying to score political points for her party.
In the weeks leading up to the hearing, Haley and other prominent Republicans have sought to ratchet up pressure on the Obama administration to disavow the case. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R) threatened this week to place a hold on Obama's nominee to be the next Commerce secretary, businessman John Bryson, who is a member of Boeing's board of directors.
Haley said Thursday the response from her and other Republicans was justified.
"It's absolutely amazing when a governor tries to bring jobs to her state and she has a president she has to fight every step of the way," she said. "All he is doing is making best friends with every country that wants to take these jobs from us, because that's where they're going."
Haley also predicted the Boeing lawsuit would continue to be an issue in the 2012 GOP presidential primary in South Carolina.
"Unions will be front and center," she said. "That's what the people of South Carolina want to hear, and it's what the people of the country want to hear. What is it that you're going to do on Day One about these issues?"