COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley said her dreams for South Carolina's future know no bounds in her inauguration speech.
Haley took the oath of office for her second term Wednesday morning at the Statehouse grounds.
Haley acknowledged the skepticism that surrounded her when she began her first term because she was young, unknown and different.
"But I knew in my heart then, as I know now, what South Carolina could be," she said.
"We are a fiercely proud state, a state with a history as rich as it is complicated, a state where the intensity of our individualism is surpassed only by the shared joy we draw from being, collectively, South Carolinians. And therein lies our strength," she said.
Haley worked in her signature catchphrase: "My friends, it truly is a great day in South Carolina!"
She quoted Albert Einstein, who once remarked, "Nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish cooperation of many individuals."
She also quoted the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, who she said took his oath of office under the shadow of Operation Lost Trust, and said "the very soul of our state is shaken if (the people) perceive their elected leaders as dishonest."
"Sadly, our soul is beginning to shake once more," she said.
Haley challenged those who serve, citing recent revelations of misuse of public funds, public office and public trust that "have shaken the very soul of our state."
"The people of South Carolina deserve more from us. They deserve honest service, the kind of service propelled not by a hunger for self-indulgence but by a heart full of grace," she said.
Haley, who told the Associated Press over the weekend that she intended to make ethics reform a top priority in 2015, criticized lawmakers for not accomplishing more.
"To date, much of the debate in the chambers behind me has been wrongly focused, with too much concern for the comfort of elected officials and too little for protecting the public interest. The shaken confidence in our government is too large and the opportunity in front of us too great for that to continue," she said.
"The last four years have seen challenges. The next four will see more of them. That does not trouble me in the least. There is greatness in our future," she said.
Haley also paid tribute to former Gov. Jim Edwards, who died on Christmas night, she said, "home in his bed, surrounded by love and prayer."
"Gov. Edwards was a kind and gentle man with a deep devotion to South Carolina. He loved this state, and this state, as we do, loved him back. He believed in us, in our future, in our greatness," she said.
Haley quoted a line from Edwards' inauguration speech four decades earlier: "I have dreamed man's dreams that never came true, I have seen them vanish at dawn, but I have realized enough of my dreams, thank God, to make me want to dream on."
Haley said her dreams were those of a little girl from Bamberg who would one day grow up to be governor, those of her parents "who left everyone and everything they knew in search of a better life," and those as a mother who "wakes every morning hoping her children's future will be even brighter than her own."
"In the South Carolina I dream of, a daughter of Dillon starts each day with the same hope and possibility as a son of Greenville. In that South Carolina, a single mother-of-two feeling stuck in her job knows that if she wants it, a better opportunity is waiting just around the corner. In that South Carolina, mothers and daughters, sisters and wives, go to bed each night knowing that they are safe, that they are loved and supported, that their community is with them. In that South Carolina, we are competing not just with North Carolina and Georgia, but with India and China. And in that South Carolina, every little girl and every little boy dreams as big as I do, and does so knowing every one of those dreams is within reach. That South Carolina is real. That South Carolina is achievable. That South Carolina is worth fighting for," she said.
"There is no limit to what lies ahead for South Carolina and her people," she said. "We're just getting started."