BALTIMORE (AP) — The House's highest-ranking Republican woman said Thursday that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley should be judged on her abilities, not her looks, dismissing a remark by fellow Republican Rep. Steve King.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is fourth in leadership as the chair of the Republican Conference, was asked about King's comment to The Associated Press that Haley wasn't a "principled conservative" in the GOP, but "I think she's beautiful so I'd be happy if she's the face of the party."
Haley delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday and called for welcoming legal immigrants to the country as long as they're properly vetted, and for resisting the temptation "to follow the siren call of the angriest voices."
She faced a backlash from some conservatives, who interpreted her remarks as a call for unlimited legal immigration into the country, something they reject. King is a strong conservative foe of efforts to overhaul the immigration system.
At a GOP retreat in Baltimore, McMorris Rodgers defended Haley.
"Nikki Haley is a proven leader. And that is what she should be judged on," the Washington state Republican told reporters.
She added that Haley "should be on anyone's short list for vice president based upon her record, based upon her leadership, her record as governor in South Carolina and what she represents for the future."