South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley stands by her man — but she also speaks truth. In an interview with The Daily Caller, Haley lamented the attention Mitt Romney’s tax returns have received lately (I write this, even as I give them more!):

“I think those are distractions. I saw it in my race. They always say ‘show me your tax return’ just so they can start throwing holes in it. I think that will be his decision to make, but that’s nothing but a political ploy,” Haley told TheDC in the spin room of the GOP presidential debate. Gov. Haley, a tea party favorite, has endorsed Romney for president.”

She’s right — but Romney also needs to find a way to be relatable despite his wealth and he also needs to grapple with the unexpected a bit better, whether the “unexpected” is an attack on Bain Capital or a request to release his tax returns or an invitation to hunt. He’s received much credit throughout this primary season for his prepared polish, but that polish often devolves into awkwardness when he’s faced with a question or situation he didn’t anticipate. He particularly will need this skill in the general election, if he does go on to secure the GOP nomination. Of that, Haley is confident; She thinks Romney will not only be the nominee, she says, but also the next president of the United States:

“Everybody I’ve talked to has been incredibly supportive because the tea party understands the power of your voice and that everybody goes and makes the decision that’s best for them,” she told TheDC. “I made a decision based on the governor of South Carolina and that I need a partner in Washington. … I believe in Mitt Romney. I believe he will be the next president, and I think he’s the only one that can beat Obama.”

“It’s going to get tough to get our federal spending from the current 25 percent of the GDP down to 20, down to 18 percent, which has been our history,” Romney said on Monday night. ”We’ve got a huge number of obligations in this country and cutting back is going to have to happen.”

Haley’s desire to see Romney win her state puts her somewhat at odds with Sarah Palin, who last night said, if she were a South Carolinian, she would vote for Newt Gingrich in South Carolina just to keep the race going. Whether that amounts to an actual endorsement is debatable; she didn’t necessarily say she wants to see Gingrich as the GOP nominee, but she clearly isn’t ready to see Mitt Romney fully assume that mantle, either.