Trump Lobs Racially Charged Attack on Haley as Republican Primaries Heat Up
Former president Donald Trump has once again employed racially charged language, this time targeting Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, just days before a hotly contested New Hampshire primary.
On Friday, Trump took to his Truth Social account to repeatedly refer to Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, as “Nimbra.” Born as Nimarata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, Haley has always been recognized by her middle name, “Nikki.”
The post also falsely suggested that Haley was ineligible to be president or vice president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born. The Constitution states that a natural-born citizen can be president, and Haley automatically became a U.S. citizen when she was born in South Carolina in 1972.
The timing, just four days before the New Hampshire primary, suggests a strategic move to undermine Haley’s credibility as she positions herself as the only viable alternative to Trump in the Republicans’ 2024 race.
Trump’s history of using race and ethnicity as political weapons is no secret. From his “birther” rhetoric against President Barack Obama to various attacks on individuals based on their heritage, Trump has consistently blurred the lines between political discourse and personal assaults.
Elder James Johnson, head of the Racial Justice Network in South Carolina, said that Trump’s remarks are his way of saying “she is not one of us, that she is a Brown person, that she is not a White person.”
In the aftermath of Trump’s racially charged attack, Haley delivered a powerful response during a rally in Keene, New Hampshire.
“He’s clearly insecure. If he goes and does these temper tantrums, if he’s going and spending millions of dollars on TV, he’s insecure, he knows that something’s wrong,” Haley said. “I don’t sit there and worry about whether it’s personal or what he means by it.”
Trump confuses Haley and Pelosi
Beyond addressing the personal insult, Haley questioned Trump’s mental fitness after he confused her with Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
In a campaign rally on Friday, Trump mistakenly referred to GOP rival Nikki Haley instead of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when discussing the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
“Nikki Haley, you know they, do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it, because of lots of things like Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard, whatever they want. They turned it down. They don’t want to talk about that. These are very dishonest people,” Trump said.
Haley called out Trump’s remarks while arguing that the presidential contest should not be a showdown between two men near or above 80 years old.
“We see that [President Joe] Biden has changed so much in two years,” Haley said. “But last night, Trump is at a rally and he’s going on and on mentioning me multiple times as to why I didn’t take security during the Capitol riots. Why didn’t I handle Jan. 6 better? I wasn’t even in D.C. on Jan. 6. I wasn’t in office then.”
“They’re saying he got confused, that he was talking about something else, he’s talking about Nancy Pelosi,” she continued. “He mentioned me multiple times in that scenario. The concern I have is — I’m not saying anything derogatory — but when you’re dealing with the pressures of the presidency, we can’t have someone else that we question whether they’re mentally fit to do this. We can’t.”
In a September NBC News poll, voters expressed concern about the ages of Trump and Biden. About 74% of respondents said they had major or moderate concerns about Biden, and 47% of respondents reported similar concerns about Trump.
Poll Numbers: Trump Maintains Lead, Haley Gains Ground
As the New Hampshire primary looms, the latest Suffolk University/NBC10 Boston/Boston Globe tracking poll offers insights into the dynamics of the race. Trump continues to hold a 17% lead over Haley, but the nuances within the numbers tell a more intricate story.
Haley’s slight increase in support, moving from 35% to 36%, suggests that despite Trump’s attacks, she is gaining ground. The poll also reveals that most voters have already made up their minds, with over 88% unlikely to change their choice, underscoring the intensity and polarization within the electorate.
New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu endorsed Haley and has spoken out against Trump for the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Both Trump and Haley are scheduled for events in New Hampshire, adding anticipation to the final stretch of a contest that has become emblematic of the ideological divisions within the Republican Party.