Mount Pleasant -- Reg Saunders got a bonus with his burrito Friday when state Rep. Nikki Haley, his choice for S.C. governor, made a campaign stop at Moe's restaurant.

"I'm really a Sarah Palin fan, and she endorsed (Haley)," said Saunders, a retired police officer from Albany, N.Y. "She wouldn't endorse someone who she didn't think met high standards."

Haley captured 49 percent of the vote in Tuesday's four-way primary, and now faces U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in a June 22 runoff for the GOP nomination. Each candidate has been trying to out-conservative the other, with calls to get tough on immigration and cut taxes.

At Moe's, Haley delivered her stump speech to a crowd of several dozen, hitting her key talking points about improving government transparency and financial disclosure, and prioritizing state spending.

She suggested that the state, which cut taxes and then slashed spending by about 25 percent during the past four years, can further cut taxes while also improving services.

"It's not what you spend, but how you spend," Haley said.

She said it's "appalling" that school districts are talking about furloughing teachers because of state budget cuts, and said officials should look at the state Department of Education employees and at school administrative staff if cost-cutting measures are needed.

Bill Bell, a local college employee who had asked about funding for schools, said he was pleased with her answer.

"We need to be lean and we need to focus on the forces at the front," he said. "In schools, that's the teachers."

While Haley was in Mount Pleasant, Barrett was campaigning in the Upstate, and he also collected the endorsement of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and finished last in the primary.

Haley responded by saying that winning 49 percent of the vote and carrying 42 of 46 counties in the primary was the endorsement that mattered to her.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or

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