AIKEN — The 2012 Republican presidential ticket won’t read Romney-Haley, according to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Haley, in Aiken on Wednesday to speak at the July meeting of the Aiken Republican Club and to honor retiring state Sen. Greg Ryberg, said that although she is working hard to get former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney elected, she will not quit her job as governor.
“I love my job, and I love the state of South Carolina,” she said. “You took a chance on me, and I’m not going to accept a Cabinet position and I’m not going to be a running mate.”
She and her staff are in frequent contact with the Romney campaign, she said, and she will campaign heavily in addition to her duties as governor.
“We can’t afford four more years of President Obama,” she said. “We will win, but we need you to stay educated.”
Mary Schultz, an Aiken resident and Haley supporter, said that although she believes Haley would make an excellent vice president, she is glad to hear South Carolina will have her as governor.
“It’s one of the best things for South Carolina, we need her leadership,” Schultz said. “But as a candidate for a federal position, she would be great.”
Bob Nichols said that Haley will probably be a contender in future national races but that it’s just a matter of timing.
“She’s the right person at the right time for South Carolina,” he said at Wednesday’s event.
Haley honored Ryberg, a longtime lawmaker, with a ceremonial signing of the recent pension reform bill, an issue Ryberg championed much of his political career. The bill reduced the state’s debt by $2 billion and will save taxpayers $300 million annually by increasing employee contributions by 1.5 percent over three years and phasing out the Teachers and Employee Retention Incentive program by 2018. On Jan. 1, the bill will stop state employees who officially retire and then return to work from getting two checks after their regular pay for the year reaches $10,000.
State Rep. Tom Young Jr., who is running to fill Ryberg’s seat, said the senator’s persistence and dedication to serve those who elected him will be missed.
“He has been a champion for the taxpayers for more than 20 years, and he’s never forgotten where he came from,” Young said.
The governor awarded Ryberg the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
For his part, Ryberg thanked the governor, his wife, Betty, and his staff for their help over his 20-year career. He insisted, however, that what he did while in office was simply his duty as an elected official.
“I just thought I was doing my job,” he said.