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2024 Election

Trump Defends Mocking Nikki Haley's Indian Birth Name Since It's A 'Very Effective Tool'

The ex-President defended his racist mockery of his GOP rival's birth name, Nimarata, during an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier.

Donald Trump; Nikki Haley
Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images; Allison Joyce/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump was widely criticized after he defended his own racist birther mockery of his Republican rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Trump, currently the GOP front-runner, employed derogatory name-calling on his Truth Social platform, referring to Haley as "Nimbra," a twist on her first name, Nimarata, which she has not used since childhood, preferring to go by her middle name, Nikki.

In a Fox News interview with Bret Baier that aired on Sunday, Trump defended his derogatory language, claiming it was a playful "takeoff" on Haley's name:

"With her, it’s just something that came. It’s a little bit of a takeoff on her name. You know, her name, wherever she may come from."
"But it’s just a little ... It’s a little bit of a takeoff. I look at her name. I look at a lot of people."
"You know, I do a lot of names for people like [referencing Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren] ‘Pocahontas.'"
“I have fun with it. And sometimes, to tell you the truth, it’s a very effective tool.”

You can hear what Trump said in the video below.

Trump has become widely known for using nicknames to criticize, insult, or otherwise mock media figures, politicians, and foreign leaders regardless of their party affiliation.

Critics, however, have condemned Trump for perpetuating racist attacks, drawing parallels to his past use of former President Barack Obama's middle name, "Hussein," and his mispronunciation of Vice President Kamala Harris' first name.

This incident is part of a broader pattern of racially insensitive remarks by Trump, including his 2019 call for members of the Democratic "squad" to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came." Notably, three out of four "squad" lawmakers were born in the United States, and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, born in Somalia, became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

In response to Trump's latest attack, Haley maintained her composure during a CNN town hall on Thursday and characterized Trump's name-calling as a tactic he employs when feeling "threatened":

“That’s what he does when he feels insecure. I don’t take these things personally. It doesn’t bother me."
"I know him very well and this is what he does. I know that I am a threat. I know that’s why he’s doing that."
“So it’s not going to waste any energy for me. I’m going to continue to focus on the things that people want to talk about. And not get into the name-calling back with him."

Many have condemned Trump's words.

Trump's racist mockery came just a couple of weeks after he fueled allegations that Haley is ineligible for the presidency due to her parents' citizenship status at her birth.

The accusation against Haley, who was at one point the Ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, originated with the conspiratorial far-right account Gateway Pundit, which Trump shared on his Truth Social account.

The claim suggests she is ineligible for the presidency since her parents weren't U.S. citizens when she was born, despite her birth in South Carolina and lifelong residency in the United States. Her parents became citizens after her birth in 1972.

Legal experts like Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, have dismissed these claims, branding them as baseless, unconstitutional, and seemingly rooted in prejudice against immigrants and people of color.