Washington D.C: Former US president Donald Trump has sparked outrage among Republicans and veterans after he made fun of his rival Nikki Haley’s husband, who is serving overseas in the US military. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and the only challenger to Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries blasted Trump for his lack of respect for military families and challenged him to a debate.
Haley’s husband, Major Michael Haley, is a commissioned officer with the South Carolina National Guard and is currently on a year-long deployment with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Bridge, which is providing support in the Horn of Africa. He left for his mission in June 2023.
Trump, who has been campaigning in South Carolina, appeared to be unaware of Major Haley’s deployment and questioned his whereabouts during a rally in Conway on Saturday. “Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away. What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone,” Trump said, implying that Haley was neglecting her marriage.
Haley, who was also in South Carolina, responded to Trump’s remarks later that day in front of a crowd of supporters. “Donald, if you have something to say, don’t say it behind my back; get on a debate stage and say it to my face,” she said. “I am proud of Michael’s service. Every military family knows it’s a sacrifice. I have long talked about the fact that we need to have mental competency tests for [politicians] over the age of 75,” she added.
Trump, who is 77 years old, has claimed that he would pass such a test, but Haley doubted his mental fitness. “Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t,” she said. “But if you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone to be president of the United States,” she said. “Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about. Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander-in-chief,” she said.
Trump’s comment on Haley’s husband also drew criticism from various quarters, including retired General Don Bolduc, who said, “Only a sick individual would put down a service member who is deployed. This disrespects every military family in our country. It’s exactly the chaos we don’t need in America.”
In a rare move, Major Haley fired back at the former president, posting a meme on Twitter reading, “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack,” while tagging Trump’s account in the caption.
Trump, who has been trailing Haley in the polls, continued his attack on her, accusing her of being a puppet of globalists and warmongers who want to spend trillions of dollars on endless wars. “The radical left Democrats want Nikki Haley because they know that she’s easy to beat. She’s very easy to beat. Haley supports a 23% national sales tax, and she wants to gut Medicare and Social Security…,” he said.
Haley, who has been campaigning on a platform of fiscal responsibility and national security, dismissed Trump’s claims as lies and fearmongering. She also spoke about the current president, Joe Biden, who is facing a scandal over his mishandling of classified documents, as revealed by a special counsel last week. “For months, I have always said that Joe Biden was not going to be president. You look at what’s happened in the last couple of days, and you see exactly what I’m talking about. The fact that we’re dealing with someone who the special counsel said that their memory was failing, that they are diminished,” she said. “It’s bigger than just Joe Biden. You can look at the same thing: whether it’s Donald Trump getting me confused with Nancy Pelosi, his temper tantrums, the things he’s done,” she said.
Haley, who kicked off her Beast of the Southeast bus tour with a stop in Newberry, stressed the importance of mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75 and distributed examples of the tests used by medical professionals to the media. She said that it should not be a difficult test for those who are seeking the highest office in the land. She also vowed to restore dignity and integrity to the White House if elected. “We need a president who is strong, smart, and stable. We need a president who respects our allies and confronts our enemies. We need a president who honors our military and supports our veterans. We need a president who is Nikki Haley,” she said.