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Nikki Haley: Donald Trump has contributed to 'irresponsible talk'

Gov. Nikki Haley defended her response to Tuesday's State of the Union, confirming to Matt Lauer she was referring to Donald Trump when she referenced the "angriest voices."
/ Source: TODAY

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended her response to Tuesday's State of the Union, confirming to TODAY's Matt Lauer she was referring to Donald Trump as one of the "angriest voices" she mentioned.

"Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk," she told Matt in an interview Wednesday.

Haley angered some conservative pundits with her response to Obama's address by seemingly saving her sharpest criticism for those in her own party, particularly those running for the White House. While never mentioning anyone by name, she urged Republican candidates to tone down divisive rhetoric and urged Americans to resist “the siren call of the angriest voices.”

Haley said while Trump was "one of them," others have contributed to the vitriol.

"There’s other people in the media, there's people in my state, I think we’re seeing it across the country," she said.

In her response, Haley also said the nation should welcome all “properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion,” further angering conservatives who felt Haley failed to address their views.

While many Democrats praised Haley's address, so did a few conservative pundits.

Haley said that launching a full-scale partisan attack on Obama is not her style: "That's not me."

While she blamed the the president for dividing the nation "in ways we've never seen before" on issues including the economy, education and national security, Haley said Republicans also need “to look in the mirror” and own up for their role in the nation’s failures.

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“Republicans need to understand there are things we could do better that can help strengthen our country. I think it’s important that Republicans look in the mirror and realize, we also are to blame," she said.

Asked if her response has had an impact on her chances being asked to be a vice presidential running mate, Haley said she hadn't given it much thought.

"I was given an opportunity to say what I think," she said of her role. But Haley said if approached by one of the candidates, "I absolutely would sit down and talk with anyone that wanted to talk."

Until then, she said she needed to focus on rolling out the South Carolina budget and the state of the state address she was scheduled to make next week.

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.