I ran into Nikki Haley at lunch today, at M Vista on Lady Street. She was there with Rob Godfrey and Tim Pearson of her campaign.
I think it was the first time I’d conversed with her since that time at Starbucks on Gervais shortly after the 2008 election. That day, she had a young woman in tow whom she introduced as being “with my campaign,” and I thought that was odd. The ’08 campaign was over, and it was early for a House candidate to be having meetings about the next campaign. I was probably the most shocked guy in South Carolina when it came out a month or two later than she was running for governor — it just seemed so totally unlikely that she would see herself as ready for that. It was the beginning of me seriously wondering about Nikki…
Anyway, Nikki was pleasant and charming as always when I went up to chat with her today. I don’t think Rob or Tim were all that thrilled to see me, though. They certainly didn’t smile, but then we guys don’t, do we, under such circumstances? Nikki did, but then ladies do.
We didn’t talk shop. She did the standard thing polite people do when other topics are awkward — she asked after my family. Then she asked how I was doing, and I told her that I was with ADCO and having lunch with my colleagues over there, and gave her one of my ADCO cards. She said I was probably glad not to be at the paper any more, and I thought that was perceptive of her. Or a good guess. Maybe it was just an understated slap at the paper; I don’t know. So I asked how she was holding up, and she said great, and I said something about how things had probably gotten a lot less crazy in the last few weeks, and she agreed. And then she asked me again about my family. So I began to dismiss myself, thinking I should wish her all the best but wanting to be honest, and ended up saying something totally inane like, “Well, as long as you’re enjoying yourself; that’s the thing…”
My ADCO friends thought it odd that I had gone to speak with her. Maybe they thought I was showing off, as in That Brad! He’ll just do any crazy thing! But that’s because they only know about Nikki and me through what I’ve written on the blog lately. They don’t realize that I’ve known her for years, and we’ve always had a very cordial relationship. I’ve happily endorsed her twice — in 2004 and 2008 (those were the only elections in which she had opposition), and always enjoyed chatting with her. I always had good hopes for her — before she embarked on her quest to become the new Mark Sanford and darling of the Tea Party, South Carolina’s answer to Sarah Palin. Which is deeply unfortunate.
So it was nice to see her, even though there was that slight awkwardness.