Nikki Haley criticizes Trump 'chaos' after he called opponents 'vermin' – Des Moines Register
NEWTON, Iowa — Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said she doesn’t agree with former President Donald Trump’s use of the word “vermin” to describe his political opponents — a word that has been criticized because of its similarity to Nazi rhetoric.
Trump used the term in a Veterans Day speech that drew widespread criticism, saying, “we pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.”
Haley, who is tied with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second place in the latest Iowa Poll, trailing Trump, was asked about Trump’s comments by an Iowan at a town hall in Newton on Friday.
“The reality is I don’t agree with that statement any more than I agree when he said Hezbollah was smart or any more than I agree when he hit Netanyahu when his country was on its knees after all that brutality,” Haley said. “It’s the chaos of it all, right.”
More:President Biden assails Trump for echoing ‘language you heard in Nazi Germany’
Haley was referring to comments Trump made about the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which he called “very smart” in October. In those same remarks, Trump criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Trump later walked back the criticism of Netanyahu.
Haley said she had a good working relationship with Trump as his United Nations ambassador, but she recalled telling him “you can be your own worst enemy.”
She said Trump’s comments are an example of the “chaos” that’s caused Republicans to lose elections and lose focus on more important issues, like national security.
“It’s not so much about Donald Trump,” Haley said. “And yes, his personality is not my personality and yes, he says things he shouldn’t say. We look so distracted right now. And when America’s distracted, the world is less safe.”
Haley made five campaign appearances in Iowa over two-day trip Thursday and Friday.
A Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll in October found Haley tied with DeSantis at 16% in the Republican presidential race. Trump was first with 43%.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.