South Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley, occasionally mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address next Tuesday.
With Republican leaders in Congress choosing Haley for the final rebuttal, two Indian-American politicians would be bookending their responses to Obama’s speeches as Louisiana’s outgoing governor Bobby Jindal did so to his first address in 2009.
In recent years, Republicans have used the rebuttal to showcase the diversity of the party’s elected officials.
Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa to Sikh immigrant parents from India, Haley is the first minority governor in South Carolina’s history and currently the youngest governor in the country.
The 116th Governor of South Carolina, Haley is the first female governor of the state. She was re-elected to a second term in November 2014.
Haley converted to Christianity when she married Michael Haley, a Captain in the US Army National Guard and combat veteran with two deployments to Afghanistan.
"Nikki Haley has led an economic turnaround and set a bold agenda for her state, getting things done and becoming one of the most popular governors in America," Speaker Paul Ryan said announcing the Congressional leaders’ decision.
"In a year when the country is crying out for a positive vision and alternative to the status quo, Governor Haley is the exact right choice to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation," he said.
"Nikki Haley is a proven leader and committed reformer who believes deeply in the promise of the country we all share," Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said.
"Not only has Governor Haley fought to bring opportunity and prosperity to the people of her state, but she’s also demonstrated how bringing people together can bring real results," he said.
"Governor Haley knows the American Dream and wants to see every American share in it, and we’re pleased that she will be delivering this year’s Republican Address?."
Haley said she was honoured to be asked to deliver the Republican address to the nation. "This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities. I intend to speak about both," she said.