In your book, Can't Is Not an Option, you say that by the age of 12 you knew the business tax code. Did you have a little bit of a tiger mom?
It was one of those things where my parents needed a bookkeeper, and they wanted us to learn the value of a dollar early. So I was doing payroll taxes by the age of 12.
Your Sikh parents arranged your sister's marriage. You declined that option. How disappointed were they?
They were disappointed. But what they saw is that no one could love me more than Michael. Now they love him more than they love me.
You're a Tea Party favorite. Do you see any similarity between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement?
No. The message of the Tea Party is, Government needs to stop. Stop spending. Stop the out-of-control government intrusion. The Occupy movement put up a lot of tents and talked about how they wanted to be like the 1% and were treated unfairly.
One of your earliest allies was your predecessor, Mark Sanford, a.k.a. the Luv Guv. When his affair was revealed, did you think, We've got to stop electing men?
It was more, Why didn't he tell me? You know? To find out a month after we had announced [his endorsement] that this happened it was unfortunate. He had a great message. When he fell, all of that fell to the wayside, and I was still Mark Sanford in a dress.
During the course of your campaign, two people claimed, without proving it, to have had affairs with you. Is that because you're a woman?
If you look at the challenges Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and I went through, they're all similar. People want to discredit us, whether it's our intelligence or our personal lives or the way we look or dress. It's the reason we need more women to get involved in the system.
Students in South Carolina score lower than the national average across all measures. Yet it was the only state that declined $144 million in federal funding for schools. Why?
I think we need to focus on improving education. That is why I increased the amount of recurring dollars that we have in our budget. Do I think we need to take stimulus dollars that come with strings attached and tie our hands and tell us how to educate our kids in South Carolina? No. The best money spent is on teachers, students and technology in the classroom.
So why did you recently campaign against a raise for teachers, in favor of lowering the state's corporate tax rate?
My focus right now is on jobs and the economy. We've brought in $5 billion worth of investment in the last year. To give state employees a pay raise when we were just coming off of a deficit wasn't a priority. Getting people back to work was the priority.
Has Mitt Romney's campaign made any overtures to you about being a running mate?
No, and I would not consider an offer. The people of my state took a chance on me when they didn't have to, and I think it's very important that I finish my job.
In key states, women prefer President Obama over Romney, whom you endorsed, by a big margin. How can Romney change that?
Ann Romney. Ann Romney is the secret bullet to all of this, because anyone who has seen her loves her. Women care about jobs and the economy. They care about what their children's lives are going to be like. But they care about people who've had certain experiences. Once we have a nominee and you see President Obama and Mitt Romney and their wives, I think you'll see women will easily change.
Does that mean you think Ann Romney is vastly superior to Michelle Obama?
That's not what I said. People don't know Ann Romney yet. They've watched Michelle Obama for years.