Nikki Haley should have run for president

Story highlights

  • Issac Bailey: Haley's State of the Union response highlighted why she is superior to most of the GOP candidates
  • After Charleston massacre, she responded appropriately and got South Carolina to take down Confederate flag

Issac Bailey has been a journalist in South Carolina for the past two decades and was most recently the primary columnist for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman Fellow. Twitter: @ijbailey The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)For a second there, I thought South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley might pull a Marco Rubio and take a desperate sip of water during her Republican response to President Obama's final State of the Union speech.

Issac Bailey
Just when it seemed she might be overwhelmed by the moment, though, she hit her stride and began looking every bit the part of someone ready for the political prime time. Referencing the Charleston shooting changed the trajectory of her performance Tuesday night the way her leadership in the aftermath of the massacre changed her political fortunes, catapulting her to the top of the list of potential Republican vice presidential nominees.
During Tuesday night's speech, she smoothly transitioned from delivering GOP red meat, slamming Obama, to pushing back against Donald Trump and grabbing the hope and change baton from the President.
    "What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about," she said. "Our state was struck with shock, pain and fear. But our people would not