CHAPIN, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley officially endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president at a scheduled campaign event in Chapin Wednesday night.
"We say, 'It's a great day in South Carolina,'" Haley said. "Ladies and gentlemen, if we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America."
Haley spoke of the challenges the Palmetto State faced in 2015, including devastating floods in October and the shooting deaths of nine parishioners at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last summer.
Haley said the events of last year, for the first time, made her feel vulnerable.
"And the people of South Carolina made us all strong," she said. "They made us strong in a way that they knew we had fight. They made us strong in a way that we knew we had grace and we had compassion and we had acceptance. And more than anything, we had the ability to be tested. So when it was time to look at this presidential race, I thought from a different perspective, that this is serious. That this matters. So I thought first and foremost as a mom, who wants her children to be safe in our country, who wants our children to have the education and the opportunities so that they can be better than we were, which is what my parents wanted for us."
I'm a military wife of a combat veteran," Haley said to cheers from the crowd. "I want a president who is going to have the backs of our military veterans and those in active duty. I want a president that knows when we fight wars, we win wars. I want a president that understands that we have to stop the federal mandates that have been pushed on the states like Obamacare and the EPA."
"But I want a president who understands that they have to go back to Washington, D.C. and bring a conscience back to our Republicans. Our Republicans need to remember what we are about, which is about balanced budgets, cutting debt, building reserves, and making sure that they understand that this guy, he's all about term limits in D.C., and that's what we want to see in a president," Haley said, motioning toward Rubio.
"We have good people in this race. We have good people running for president. And I thank them today for their sacrifice and their willing to serve to honor this great country and make her better. But my job was to find the person I thought could do it the best. So I wanted somebody with fight. I wanted somebody with passion. I wanted somebody with conviction to do the right thing, but I wanted somebody humble enough that remembers that you work for all the people. And I wanted somebody that was going to show and show my parents that the best decision they ever made for their children was coming to America."
Rubio thanked Haley, saying she embodies for him everything he wants the Conservative movement to be about and that he believes it is about.
Moments before Haley and Rubio took the stage, former USC quarterback Connor Shaw spoke of Rubio's character.
"First and foremost, Marco is a man of faith at a time when this country most needs it," Shaw said. "Also, he knows the value of family and he makes it a priority."
Shaw said the country is at a time of unique national security challenges, and said he believes Rubio is the best candidate to keep the nation safe, calling him "a testament to the American Dream."
Earlier on Wednesday, Rubio drew a standing room only crowd inside the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant.