President Biden swooped to Nikki Haley’s defense against attacks from former President Donald Trump over her deployed husband’s absence from the campaign trail.
At a rally in Conway, South Carolina Saturday, Trump sounded off on Maj. Michael Haley, “What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone! He knew.”
“The answer is that Major Haley is abroad, serving his country right now. We know he thinks our troops are ‘suckers,’ but this guy wouldn’t know service to his country if it slapped him in the face,” Biden posted on X Sunday.
Last June, Michael Haley embarked on a year-long deployment with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade to the Horn of Africa.
Trump has weathered similar consternation about former First Lady Melania Trump’s infrequent public appearances on the campaign trail.
He explained that she had been absent from the spotlight to tend to her ailing mother, who died last month at the age of 78. Melania emerged at Mar-a-Lago Saturday evening.
Michael Haley quickly fired back at Trump, posting a meme of a wolf that said, “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.”
Nikki Haley served as Trump’s US ambassador to the UN from 2017 to 2018.
“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 shot back on X Saturday.
The former South Carolina governor also used the dust-up with Trump to renew her calls on him to square off with her on the debate stage.
“Get on a debate stage and say it to my face,” she taunted.
Trump has been increasingly irritated by Haley’s refusal to drop out of the 2024 Republican race for the presidency, given his sweeping victories and commanding lead in the polls.
Haley is hoping that her home state of South Carolina, where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017, can help her gain steam against him.
South Carolina’s Republican primary is slated for Feb. 24.
In addition to his comments on Michael Haley, Trump also drew scrutiny for questioning the US commitment to NATO nations that don’t fulfill their obligations.
“I said, ‘Everybody’s gonna pay.’ They said, ‘Well if we don’t pay, are you still going to protect us?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ They couldn’t believe the answer,” Trump reflected on his presidency during the rally.
He then claimed that “one of the presidents of a big country” asked him if the US would protect them from Russia if they “don’t pay.”
“No, I would not protect you,” Trump recounted saying. “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.”
Trump had been a huge proponent of NATO members fulfilling their obligation to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on national defense.
In 2022, only seven of NATO’s then-30 member nations fulfilled the 2% threshold, according to its annual report released last year. Finland has since ascended into the alliance, bringing its membership up to 31.
The White House lashed out at Trump for musing about letting Russia attack NATO allies.
“Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged – and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said, per the Associated Press.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in response to Trump’s remarks.