Nikki Haley Downplays Her Race

Indian-American candidate wants to blend in
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2010 9:07 AM CDT
Nikki Haley hugs her children in Columbia, S.C. during an election night gathering on Tuesday, June 8, 2010.   (AP Photo/The Greenville News, Heidi Heilbrunn)

(Newser) – Nikki Haley will likely be the first non-white, non-male governor South Carolina has ever had, but she doesn’t seem too keen to dwell on that fact. “I love that people think it’s a good story,” she tells the New York Times, “but I don’t understand how it’s different.” Haley’s parents were the first Indian immigrants her hometown had ever seen, so she grew up trying to “show people how you’re more alike than you are different.”

That’s lead her to make some very tactical choices when discussing her background. Haley was raised Sikh, but now speaks of having “converted to Christianity” when she married her husband in a Methodist church—neglecting to mention that they also held a Sikh ceremony. But such maneuvers are a bit understandable given that in her first run at state office in 2004, her opponent bombarded her with racial and religious attacks, making hay, for example, over her given name (Nimrata; Nikki is her middle name), and circulating literature calling her a Muslim.

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