In a radio interview Monday, South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley accused her GOP primary opponents of being responsible for blogger and political consultant Will Folks’ claim that he had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with the married Haley a few years ago.
Throughout the interview with WORD radio host Bob McLain, Haley paints Folks’ claim as the work of enemies (she frequently refers to “they”) including her opponents and entrenched state interests, rather than simply coming from Folks himself. She again denies any affair.
McLain asked Haley if she felt “as if a competitive campaign, somebody in an opposition camp, is behind this release on this website today?”
Haley responded: “I mean, Bob, it’s two weeks prior to the election. They didn’t care who I was a month ago, and suddenly it turns out I’m 11 points high in the polls, and all of a sudden we’ve got anonymous secret emails going out, and we’ve got this attack today. And I don’t expect the attacks to stop. They do what they think they need to do to win, which is to bring other people down.”
It’s worth pointing out that Folks himself said in the original post on the relationship that a “network” of anti-Haley “operatives” was leaking evidence of the affair to the press, and he therefore felt compelled to come forward. He has since claimed that those operatives were working for the campaign of Haley opponent Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC), which the campaign denies.
Later in the interview, which you can listen to here, McLain asks, “Do you think that someone, whether in another campaign or a consultant or something, waved enough money in the face of Will Folks that prompted this allegation?”
Haley responded (emphasis ours):
“I think I will let your listeners and I will let you decide that for yourself. To me it’s pretty obvious. But I’m certainly not gonna get into the ‘what I think happened’ because I refuse to put any energy toward that. You know, what I think is this is everything I’m fighting against. And while I have gone through a bitter six-year battle against the things I think that are wrong with the legislature, and I have gone through a lot of bruises behind the scenes. I think that you are now seeing a lot of those bruises publicly. That is what they do to stop things. And I in order to fight them back is to educate the public about what’s going on, and continue to expose it … “
Here’s another interesting exchange in which Haley explains how she knows Folks, and observes that “political consultants in South Carolina take care of those that pay them.”
Host: Let me ask you to speculate a little bit here, Nikki, and I realize I’m putting you in a difficult position to do this, because it’s difficult to know what the motivations for somebody behind this may have been. but, you know Will Folks, obviously, having been in Columbia at the same time he was press spokesman for Governor Sanford, right?
Host: Were you guys even friendly, or close friends?
HALEY: He did some work for me when my campaign manager was working for the McCain project, he did some work for me then. He’s a good writer, but he is also someone that is a political consultant. And political consultants in South Carolina take care of those that pay them. And I am very aware of that. And so, you know, I guess, you know — everybody has to do things their way. I’m not going to speculate or figure out what this is or why this is, because I know how things work here in Columbia. All I’m gonna do is make sure they understand they have not distracted me in the least. I am committeed. We have a debate tonight, I am ready to go. We’ve got a debate tomorrow morning, I am fired up. All they did was unleash the tiger.
Late Update: TPMmuckraker interviews Will Folks.