Nikki Haley, within the closing stretch earlier than the South Carolina major, goes all in on attacking former President Donald J. Trump, her former boss and chief rival, whom she trails by an enormous margin in her dwelling state.
Ms. Haley, the previous governor of South Carolina, has used Mr. Trump’s feedback over the weekend, about international coverage and her household, to query his health for workplace, after months of treading calmly on his authorized travails and rising authoritarian rhetoric.
In Elgin, S.C., on Monday, she solid Mr. Trump as disrespectful to navy personnel, a risk to nationwide safety, and too addled by outdated age to successfully serve. The harsher method is central to her argument that the nation doesn’t need a rematch between President Biden and Mr. Trump and that she is extra electable than the previous president in a normal election, whilst polls present her behind Mr. Trump by over 30 factors in South Carolina.
Ms. Haley has used a particular counsel report that advised Mr. Biden struggles with reminiscence issues to argue that the identical is true of Mr. Trump, pointing to his conflation of her with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and his seemingly off-script remarks.
“The special counsel comes out and says he’s mentally diminished,” Ms. Haley mentioned of Mr. Biden, earlier than including: “That’s not far from Donald Trump.”
She criticized the previous president’s feedback over the weekend insinuating that her husband, who’s deployed to Africa with the National Guard, left the nation to flee her. Those remarks, Ms. Haley mentioned on Monday, have been insulting to all navy personnel, including, “With that kind of disrespect for the military, he’s not qualified to be the president of the United States, because I don’t trust him to protect them.”
Speaking to reporters afterward, she acquired extra private.
“The most harm he’s ever come across is whether a golf ball hits him on a golf cart, and you’re going to go and mock our men and women in the military?” she mentioned. “I don’t care what party you’re in, that’s not OK.”
Ms. Haley additionally hit Mr. Trump for suggesting he would encourage Russian aggression towards U.S. allies behind on funds to the navy alliance. She mentioned the remarks put service members and “all of our allies in harm’s way.”
“Donald Trump is taking the side of a thug,” she mentioned, noting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its detainment of Evan Gershkovich, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal.
And she mentioned Mr. Trump had his “fingerprints on” a slew of different examples of what she known as Mr. Trump’s chaotic affect over the get together, just like the collapse of a bipartisan border deal in Congress and reviews of turnover on the Republican National Committee. Ms. Haley has additionally, in current weeks, criticized Mr. Trump for spending $50 million in marketing campaign funds on court docket appearances.
Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, pointed to his file in workplace in saying “there has been no greater advocate for our brave military men and women than President Trump.”
“Nikki Haley advocates for greater foreign intervention and supports endless wars that would leave more American heroes dead,” Ms. Leavitt mentioned in a press release. “It’s a good thing she will never be commander in chief.”
Before the primary Republican nominating contest in Iowa in January, Ms. Haley’s stump speech, which she not often deviated from, typically performed up her file in South Carolina, international coverage expertise as Mr. Trump’s United Nations ambassador and her imaginative and prescient for the long run. But for the reason that Iowa caucuses, the place she completed third, she has progressively ramped up her assaults on Mr. Trump, progressing from offhand jabs about his administration’s elevating the nationwide debt to centering his weaknesses in speeches.
Asked about her harsher method, and why she didn’t strike that tone sooner, Ms. Haley mentioned she had prevented such assaults as a result of she needed to deal with a imaginative and prescient for the long run.
“If I make it about me, that’s no different than what Donald Trump does every single day because all he does is make everything about himself,” she mentioned.
Ms. Haley’s largest problem, nonetheless, was maybe greatest exhibited by her occasions themselves: At the Harley-Davidson dealership the place she spoke on a wet afternoon on Monday, she addressed round 50 individuals, the place some chairs that have been arrange went unfilled.
And some who attended weren’t essentially voters she wants to chop into Mr. Trump’s lead. John Schuller, a 76-year-old Democrat, mentioned he believed it was “arrogant and selfish” for Mr. Biden “not to step off the stage and let someone new come on.” Ms. Haley, whom he plans to again within the major, appeared like a “reasonable voice” — although he acknowledged that her path ahead could be robust.
“Miracles happen,” Mr. Schuller mentioned. “I hope South Carolina can make a miracle happen.”