Following Donald Trump’s latest lopsided victories in Republican presidential nominating contests, it’s tempting to think he’d shift his attention to the general election and give up on attacking Nikki Haley. But as NBC News reported over the weekend, the former president apparently can’t help himself.
Former President Donald Trump made a fresh jab at his GOP opponent Nikki Haley’s husband during a rally Saturday afternoon, questioning his whereabouts as he’s deployed overseas. While telling a story about Haley previously meeting Trump at his residence in Mar-a-Lago, he lobbed rhetorical and prodding questions to the rowdy crowd referencing Haley’s husband, who is currently on military deployment.
“Then she comes over to see me at Mar-a-Lago. ‘Sir, I will never run against you.’ She brought her husband. Where’s your husband? Oh, he’s away. He’s away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone! He knew. He knew,” Trump said.
As a New York Times report added, Trump seemed to insinuate that Michael Haley, a National Guardsmen, “left for a deployment in order to escape her.”
For his part, Haley’s husband turned to social media with an item showing a photo of a wolf alongside text that read, “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.”
The former ambassador to the U.N. has been deeply critical of President Joe Biden, but the incumbent Democrat also weighed in with a defense. “The answer [to Trump’s question] is that Major Haley is abroad, serving his country right now,” Biden wrote online. “We know [Trump] thinks our troops are ‘suckers,’ but this guy wouldn’t know service to his country if it slapped him in the face.”
To be sure, there’s no shortage of relevant angles to a story like this. We could talk about Trump’s long history of disparaging Americans who serve in the military. We could also note that the former president appears to be throwing stones from a glass house, given that his third wife hasn’t exactly maintained a high public profile lately.
But what stood out for me most was something Nikki Haley told Politico.
Her reaction quickly turned to anger — not just at Trump, but at others in the GOP who have said nothing to push back against the former president’s weekend screed. “Why is there silence from the Republican Party?” she asked. “Like, where is everybody? ... Where are the Republicans in defense of our men and women in uniform that sacrifice for us and protect our country?”
It’s a good question with an unfortunate answer. As best as I can tell, Haley received far more support from the Democratic White House than from anyone in her own party.
In fact, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sen. Marco Rubio for his reaction to Trump’s comments about Haley’s husband. As part of the same interview in which the Florida Republican shrugged in response to the former president’s radical rhetoric about NATO, the GOP senator added, “Trump gives as good as he gets.”
Nikki Haley wants to know where Republicans are, but there is no great mystery. They’re right where they always are: pretending to be comfortable with Trump’s radicalism out of a twisted sense of party loyalty.