Gov. Nikki Haley kept her focus on defeating President Barack Obama and kept quiet on her support of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney while speaking Monday to a Tea Party crowd.
The governor was speaking to more than 200 at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention in Myrtle Beach, in advance of the SCGOP Debate Monday night.
Haley has taken flak from some Tea Party supporters for her fervent endorsement of Romney, who endorsed Haley early in her 2010 gubernatorial race. On Sunday, a speaker supporting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the convention
With no mention of Romney, Haley focused her time on voting the president out in November.
Haley noted the National Labor Relations Board challenge to a Boeing Dreamliner facility in North Charleston and Justice Department suits against the state's new immigration and voter ID laws.
"What they don't know is that you don't mess with us here in South Carolina," Haley said.
That is why the election in November is so important, she said.
"At the end of the day, when we all come together, I cannot continue to lead South Carolina with President Obama in office," she said. "President Obama is the hardest part of my job and he has to go."
Haley told the press afterwards that the Tea Party doesn't vote in a block.
"You're going to see them divided on this, but every one of them wants to see President Obama gone," she said.
Other candidates, including Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), are scheduled to speak Monday afternoon to the Tea Party crowd. When asked Haley said Romney should speak to the convention if he has the time in his schedule.
"These are good people, they know their issues," Haley said.
In her address to the crowd, Haley also touted her success in Columbia on securing on-the-record voting and curbing local legislation, as well as implementing Medicaid and tort reform. But, on each point, she thanked the Tea Party audience for their help.
"I want to thank you for using the power of your voice and helping me get things done," she said.
After noting a new effort to work around a few of the mandated on-the-record votes on the budget, Haley said she was ready to fight it, but needed the Tea Party's help.
"I'm on it and I ask that you stay on it," she said.
Haley also showed she's still ready to take on the legislature in 2012, pointing in particular to promises of a new Department of Administration. She noted it was held up in the final days of the session last year, prompting the governor to walk into the chamber to challenge Senate leaders.
"I will show up there any time they lie to me," she said.
With a speech focused on her opposition to Obama, while promoting her reform agenda in the Statehouse, Haley received a standing ovation from the crowd.