Former President Donald Trump has apparently taken note of the conspicuous absence of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s husband from the campaign trail and is openly wondering where the man has gotten off to.
Trump, during a Saturday rally in South Carolina, asked the audience what had become of Mr. Haley.
“What happened to her husband?” Trump asked a laughing crowd. “Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.”
His joke turned sour, however, after it was pointed out that U.S. Army Maj. Michael Haley hasn’t been making the rounds with his wife because he’s deployed overseas.
“Either Donald Trump is openly insulting military families, or he got confused again and doesn’t know my husband is deployed. Either way, he isn’t up to the task of leading the greatest fighting force in the world,” Haley said via the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Maj. Harris is currently on a year-long deployment with the South Carolina National Guard’s 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which military officials have said is providing support in the Horn of Africa.
His deployment has been a frequent feature of Haley’s campaign for the Republican nomination, and her story about dropping him off before he began his tour overseas has become a recurring personal anecdote of the sacrifice born by military families and an easy segue toward her campaign’s pledges about veterans.
Haley was more explicit in her criticism a few hours later, when she was making the Sunday show rounds and said that Trump’s comments are just the latest in a long line of remarks denigrating the men and women of the armed forces.
“This isn’t personal about me and Michael. This is about what it says to every member who sacrifices for us. This is about what it says to every military family who sacrifices alongside them. We can’t have someone who sits there and mocks our men and women who are trying to protect America,” she told CBS on Sunday.
Trump famously said early in his political career that he preferred heroes who “weren’t captured,” an insult directed at the late-Sen. John McCain, a former P.O.W..
His former Chief of Staff, John Kelly, has confirmed stories about Trump’s regard for military service.
Trump is, according to Kelly, “a person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them. A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”
Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, had similar thoughts about his former boss on Sunday.
“Donald Trump never understood the importance and virtue of military service,” he told CNN. “It’s not something he understands or appreciates.”
According to Haley, Trump’s remarks present Republican Primary voters with a clear choice between actual support for the U.S. military and token claims of gratitude.
“This is a chance America’s going to get to decide. We know what Donald Trump is,” she said.
Haley’s husband responded to the attack by sharing an image of a wolf superimposed with a joke of his own.
“The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack,” his post read.