Haley takes oath as SC's first female governor

Prayer Service Wednesday morning
Prayer Service Wednesday morning

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – Nikki Haley has taken the oath of office, becoming South Carolina's 90th governor and the first woman to run the state.

South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal administered the oath under sunny skies but in near-freezing temperatures on the Statehouse steps.

Dressed in a bright, white overcoat and with husband Michael and their two children by her side, the 38-year-old Republican became the nation's second Indian-American governor. Other constitutional officers also took their oaths of office.

In her inaugural address, Haley said the state must cut taxes and trim the size of government to turn around its lagging economy.

Nikki Haley invoked the state's fierce spirit of independence during the Revolutionary War and blamed misguided federal aid for helping to ruin the state budget.

She also says state spending must become more efficient and called for improvements to education. While vague on details, her speech hinted at allowing children to attend school outside their home districts. She also renewed her call for lawmakers to record all of their votes on legislation.

The procession before the swearing-in was slightly delayed when a law officer collapsed, but officials later said the officer would be OK.

A prayer service began a day of inaugural activities for Nikki Haley. A bagpipe procession opened the ceremony at Trinity Cathedral, across the street from the Statehouse in Columbia on Wednesday morning.

First gentleman Michael Haley was in his Army dress uniform. He's a member of the South Carolina National Guard.

Outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford attended the ceremony, as did former first lady Jenny Sanford. They were not seated together. They divorced last year after the governor admitted an affair with an Argentine woman.

Pastors called on South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley to help restore trust in government as Haley's own pastor called on churches to work with the state to deliver services.

First Presbyterian Church of Greenville Pastor Pamela Cole said Haley could become known as the governor who did the right thing regardless of the cost.

Mt. Horeb Methodist Church Pastor Jeff Kersey said churches around the state should support Haley's plans to have the faith community work more closely with government as services are cut by the budget crunch.

An open house at the governor's mansion and a gala Wednesday evening will round out the activities Wednesday.

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