By Dean Stephens
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- Take one look around Governor Nikki Haley's office and it's not hard to see what drives her. A model airplane of the Dreamliner. Pictures of her family. A Sarah Palin autographed sharpie. And believe it or not, a Gamecock football helmet.
"It didn't start out that way. It was all Clemson, and then we had Carolina people come in here and said this just isn't balanced and so they did add to that," said the Governor during a one-on-one interview.
The biggest fight on Haley's field of play? The Port of Charleston vs. the Port of Savannah. Her critics say she sold out South Carolina when DHEC granted the state of Georgia a water quality permit. DHEC's board is made up of Haley appointees.
"Perception is not reality. Facts are reality," Haley said. "This was that Georgia stepped up and met a benchmark. What South Carolina has to understand is that you don't have to cut your neighbor's feet out from underneath them to win. You win by being competitive. You win by being strong," she said.
Tabbed the face of the New South, the governor says her early exposure helped bring jobs to the state.
"It was changing the way people viewed South Carolina, and it was getting them to understand that we have good people that make good decisions. We're moving forward, and we're bringing jobs. We're bringing companies, and we have a business woman heading the state," Haley said about a Newsweek cover story.
The governor's greatest struggle may be with state lawmakers, from taxes to restructuring the way business is done in the statehouse.
"It's time for the House to say 'don't talk about tax reform, pay for it in the budget. Don't talk about restructuring and then when it comes back to you, you sit on it.' It's about action, this is about getting things done," Haley said.
Also on the governor's agenda, Mitt Romney. She stumped for the former governor at home and on the road. The GOP may be fractured now, but she's confident it will come together before August's convention.
"It's not going to go all the way to the convention. I know that this is what primaries are all about. They beat up on each other and eventually someone runs out of money. Someone runs out of strength, and enough of their supporters say its time to go. That will happen in its own time," Haley said about the race between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
There could be more national recognition for the governor as it's expected she will play a role in the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. The governor said during a trip this week to the Lowcountry that she has no interest in a vice president position.