One Sign Haley Is Gaining Traction: Trump Goes on Attack

Former president's campaign criticizes her on multiple issues after debate performance
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 11:40 AM CDT
One Sign Haley Is Gaining Traction: Trump Goes on Attack
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during the Republican primary debate Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In the eyes of most observers, Nikki Haley acquitted herself well Wednesday night for the second GOP debate. Maybe the most telling evidence of that is that the campaign of Donald Trump made a point to go after her with a statement titled "The Real Nikki Haley." Among other things, it attempts to link her to Hillary Clinton by quoting from a 2012 interview Haley gave to the New York Times, in which she said that "the reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton," per the Hill. The Trump statement doesn't provide further context—namely that the full interview makes clear it wasn't Clinton's political views that inspired Haley, but Clinton's wish that more women would enter politics in general.

The Trump statement also calls Haley "weak on immigration" and accuses her of wishing to prolong the Russia-Ukraine war with American aid rather than look for a "peaceful solution." It comes as Haley, who served as Trump's ambassador to the UN, has gotten increasingly aggressive on Trump. At Wednesday's debate, for example, she said he wasn't tough enough against China as president, per the AP. "This is where President Trump went wrong," Haley said, accusing Trump of focusing on trade with Beijing while ignoring a host of other issues. Among other things, she accused China of stealing intellectual property and flooding the US with fentanyl.

"I guess Donald Trump feels threatened by Nikki Haley," Haley spokesman Ken Farnaso said in a statement, in response to the Trump campaign's attack, per the Hill. Axios and the Hill note that Haley also went after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the debate over fracking, had a spirited exchange with Sen. Tim Scott—encouraging him to "Bring it, Tim" at one point—over their political bona fides, and memorably told Vivek Ramaswamy that she felt "dumber" after listening to him. "I suspect a lot of Republican women watching that debate tonight were either silently thinking or perhaps even sort of cheering her on, 'Go, Nikki, go,'" Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak tells the Washington Post. "It may be the secret weapon she has." (More Nikki Haley 2024 stories.)

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