COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley says former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped spread Haley's message, but she's not ready to endorse Palin for president.
Haley told NBC's "Today" show Wednesday she already was picking up momentum in the Republican primary when Palin came to Columbia to endorse her.
"We saw were coming from fourth places to about second places, but certainly when she came to getting involved in South Carolina, it got more people to pay attention to the message, so we were very grateful," Haley said. "She has gotten the country to realize the power of their voice, and she certainly did that in South Carolina. We were grateful. We spread our message and she helped us do that."
But Haley says it's too soon to say she would back Palin for president in 2012.
"I think the responsibility to the citizens of South Carolina is that I look at the environment. I look at the slate of candidates that are running and I make the choice that I think is best for the people of this state," Haley said. "I think it's definitely too early to make any of those decisions but I will weigh out all the issues when it's time."
Haley says she's proud to be a product of the tea party movement. She says that movement tries to fight what she called "arrogance" by Republicans and Democrats.
"I love the tea party," Haley said. "The tea party is not a party at all. It's Republicans, Democrats and Independents, who said, 'We've had enough.' They wanted to take their government back. It was going back to what the role of government should be, which is government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never intended to be all things to all people."
Haley again downplayed the significance of becoming the first woman governor in South Carolina. She says what she hopes to accomplish as governor is more important.
"I think when people look at this race they certainly see that it's historic. What I hope is historic is what we accomplish in January and the things we do for South Carolina," Haley said. "Anyone that's proud because of this election, I appreciate that and my family shares in that, but I think the pride is going to happen in January when we do great things for South Carolina."
(The Associated Press contributed.)