WASHINGTON - The Governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, an American of Indian origin who delivered the Republican response to response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, won praise from the very place she was tasked with criticizing: the White House. And there were calls from some politicians and journalists that she should have run for president.

“I have a lot of admiration for the governor,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think some of the things she has done over the last year are remarkable.”

Haley’s response to Obama’s annual address was unusual in that it took a veiled shot at her own party’s presidential front-runner, Donald Trump. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said. “We must resist that temptation.

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.”

Those comments echoed Obama’s speech, in which he rejected Trump’s doom-and-gloom message. Obama said at times of great change, America has never given in to “those who told us to fear the future” or promised “to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control.”

She didn’t mention Trump by name in her State of the Union response, but Wednesday made it clear that she had him in mind.”Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” Haley said on television. “There’s other people in the media, there’s people in my state, I think we’re seeing it across the country.”

The praise from the White House wasn’t directly for Haley’s Tuesdaynight speech, which was intended to rebut Obama’s optimistic address.

“She was willing to do something a lot of other leading Republicans have been unwilling to do, which is to actually articulate a commitment for American values that some leading Republican presidential candidates are speaking out against,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. “Her willingness to stand up and speak out against that took some courage and was it rather conspicuous.”

But they also raised the ire of many on the right, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who said that Haley - the child of Indian immigrants - should be “deported” for her remarks. “Trump should deport Nikki Haley,” Coulter tweeted about Trump as the governor talked about vetting immigrants.

Born as Nimrata Randhawa to Sikh parents who migrated from Indian Punjab, Haley created history by becoming the first woman to occupy the governor’s mansion of South Carolina.

She is the second India-American to be a Governor of a US State after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who was elected in 2007. Piyush Subhas Chandra Amrit (now “Bobby” Jindal) also hails from Indian Punjab and recently withdrew from the race for Repoublican nomination for president. Their rise in American political system is a huge gain for India.

Meanwhile, Trump also took a shot at Haley. “She’s very weak on illegal immigration. I’ve known that for a long time,” Trump said on Fox News. “And she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions.”

McDonough, the White House chief of staff, didn’t specifically direct his praise at that portion of Haley’s speech, and he declined to predict what effect the address might have on the Republican presidential primary.

But he praised Haley for her “powerful” leadership in the aftermath of last summer’s shootings at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from state grounds.

“On one level, I wasn’t surprised to see some of the themes of the speech given that,” he said. “A lot of this, including many parts of the speech last night, were admirable.”

McDonough later loosened his political bear hug of Haley, saying the White House disagreed with many of her positions, including her refusal to expand Medicaid in her state.

“A lot of stuff that she has proposed we disagree with, and there are some things we wish she would do she hasn’t,” he said. “By no means am I trying to endorse everything she is doing.”

Haley earned widespread praise from the media. CNN columnist Isaac Bailey wrote that Haley was so good that she “should have run for president.” Syndicated conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said immediately after Haley’s remarks, on Fox News Channel, that her response was the best he has ever seen. (We here on The Fix noted that Google searches for Haley spiked - likely a good sign for her name recognition and potential vice presidential stock.)

Haley’s speech-after-the-speech appeared to play well with the Republican voters, too, according to pollster Frank Luntz, who measured record-high favorability ratings in a focus group during Haley’s response.

Unlike other Republicans, she was civil in her criticism of the president, reflective in her admission that her party “need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership” and compassionate in her appraisal of immigrants. In short, she delivered much of what the media considers lacking in a presidential campaign season full of angry and divisive rhetoric.