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Speculations about Nikki Haley as Republican Vice President candidate

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Washington: Republicans picking South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley to give the party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, fuelled speculations that she might be party’s pick for the Vice President candidature.

Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, to Sikh immigrant parents from India, Haley at 43 the youngest governor in the country will give the Republican response to Obama’s final annual address to the Congress Tuesday night.

A day later she will speak to Republican leaders gathered for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charleston at a private event aboard the USS Yorktown in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, influential Politico reported citing sources.

The following day, just before Republican presidential hopefuls gather for the debate, Haley is expected to have a private meeting with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, according to a source familiar with her plans.

“All this comes on the back of a strong year that saw her prospects in the veepstakes improve as Haley signed off on legislation removing the Confederate flag from Columbia and oversaw a state battered by a tragic massacre and a massive flood,” the Politico said.

In August, at the RNC summer meeting in Cleveland, Haley was invited to be its luncheon headliner, the Politico noted.

In recent months, Haley has fostered a close relationship with Christie as well as with two other Republican White House hopefuls: Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, it said.

Over the course of the primary campaign, she has been exchanging text messages with all three candidates.

Haley said Thursday she plans to address the challenges in South Carolina and the nation that she thinks are the most important in her Republican response to Obama’s address.

Haley declined to reveal details of what she plans to say, except to repeat that she is giving an “address” to the nation rather a “response” to Obama. “I certainly am not one to compete against the President or try to imply that I could be,” Haley told reporters, according to Charlotte Observer.

Haley’s selection, the Observer said, is seen as part of the Republican Party’s attempts to win over female voters, who will have a chance to elect the first female president if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. But she called such talk a “waste of time”.

When asked about being given such an honour, she smiled and said she was humbled by it. “You have to know I always go back to that 5-year-old Indian girl that lived in Bamberg. That just wondered what was out there,” Haley said.

Haley was first elected South Carolina governor in 2010, becoming both the first woman and the first Indian-American to hold the top office in the state. She was re-elected in 2014(Arun Kumar, IANS)(Image: Youtube)

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Obamacare Ruling Attracts Little Comment From Republicans

Some legal observers believe Congress is unlikely to pass a new law while the case is in the courts.

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Obamacare, republican
A sign on an insurance store advertises Obamacare in the San Ysidro district of San Diego,Calif., Oct. 26, 2017. VOA

Republican lawmakers have been mostly silent on Friday’s court ruling that the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. Democrats, however, have said they’ll hold the GOP to its commitment to retain popular provisions of the law, such as guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions.

“The GOP spent all last year pretending to support people with pre-existing conditions while quietly trying to remove that support in the courts,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a tweet Saturday. “Next year, we will force votes to expose their lies.”

USA, republicans, democrats
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 13, 2018. VOA

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who will assume the speaker’s role next year, said the House “will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the lifesaving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republican effort to destroy” the law.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ruled Friday that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire ACA. The decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the ACA will remain the law during the appeal.

U.S. President Donald Trump had promised during his presidential campaign to dismantle the ACA, a program that made affordable health insurance available to millions of Americans.

Obamacare, U.S., republican
Protesters gather across the Chicago River from Trump Tower to rally against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, March 24, 2017, in Chicago. VOA

‘Great news’

The president took to Twitter Friday night: “Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the judge’s decision “vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Once again, the President calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with pre-existing conditions and provide Americans with quality, affordable health care.”

Americans with pre-existing conditions, before ACA, faced either high premiums or an inability to access health insurance at all.

Schumer said in a statement Friday that the ruling “seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning, and hopefully it will be overturned. Americans who care about working families must do all they can to prevent this district court ruling from becoming law.”

Obamacare, republicans
A person walks by a health care insurance office in Hialeah, Fla. VOA

 

“Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the leader of an alliance of states opposing the lawsuit, said in a statement Friday. “Our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and well-being for all Americans.”

New law unlikely for now

Some legal observers believe Congress is unlikely to pass a new law while the case is in the courts. Many senior Republican lawmakers have said they did not plan to also strike down provisions such as pre-existing condition coverage when they repealed the law’s fines for people who can afford coverage but remain uninsured.

Also Read: Obamacare Unconstitutional: U.S. Federal Judge

If the case reaches the Supreme Court, it would be the third time the high court considers a challenge to ACA provisions. The law’s opponents lost the first two cases.

Polls have regularly shown wide public support for the guarantee of health insurance coverage regardless of pre-existing health conditions, an issue Democrats successfully leveraged in last month’s midterm elections to win control of the House of Representatives. (VOA)