Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Sunday called former President Trump’s questioning of her military husband’s whereabouts “insulting to military families.”
Trump, who holds a comfortable lead over Haley in the GOP primary race, spoke at a campaign event in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday, when he questioned why Haley’s husband is not with her on the campaign trail.
Her husband, Maj. Michael Haley, is currently abroad with the South Carolina National Guard on a yearlong mission. He is being deployed as a staff officer with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which the National Guard states is giving support in the Horn of Africa, The Associated Press reported.
“What happened to her husband?” Trump asked a crowd in Conway, S.C, on Saturday. Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.”
His comments are reminiscent of those he made in 2015 over whether the late Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), a prisoner of war in Vietnam, should be considered a hero because he liked “people who weren’t captured.”
Pressed over his comments by CBS “Face The Nation,” anchor Margaret Brennan and how Haley still worked in Trump’s cabinet despite this criticism of McCain, the former United Nations ambassador responded, “Well, I agreed to serve our country and I’m proud that I got to serve our country. There’s…nothing- no more higher honor than to serve the people of this country.”
“But what I can tell you is look, it’s just, it’s insulting to military members. It’s insulting to military families. And the part that bothers me is he continues to do this,” Haley continued.”This isn’t personal about me and Michael, this is about what it says to every member who sacrifices for us.”
“This is about what it says to every military family who sacrifices alongside of them. We can’t have someone who sits there and mocks our men and women who are trying to protect America,” she added.
Haley argued Trump’s remarks follow a “pattern of chaos,” and “irresponsibility.”
Trump’s remarks about Haley’s husband drew strong rebuke from various Republicans, including one of Haley’s strongest supports, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
“This is a disgrace. Major Haley is serving his country. Donald Trump is again attacking and insulting military families. The contrast couldn’t be more striking. Republicans have a great choice in @NikkiHaley. She’ll be a President we are ALWAYS proud of,” Sununu wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“When you start talking about a veteran serving overseas, I don’t care if you know them or not, that should make your heart sick,” said state Rep. Chris Wooten, who introduced Haley at an evening rally, per The AP.
Haley also weighed in on Saturday, writing, “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.”
Haley and Trump are both making a series of campaign stops in Haley’s home state of South Carolina, which will hold its primary later this month.
Trump holds a nearly 32-point lead over Haley in The Palmetto State, according to a polling index by The Hill and Decision Desk HQ. Haley has vowed to remain in the race until at least Super Tuesday despite disappointing losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
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