Former President Donald Trump mocked opponent Nikki Haley for not having her husband by her side — ignoring the fact that he’s serving in the military overseas.
Speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina on Saturday, Trump took the jab at Haley while telling a story about meeting the former Palmetto State Governor at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“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,” Trump ranted.
“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.
Maj. Michael Haley, a commissioned officer with the South Carolina National Guard, is currently on a year-long deployment with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Bridge, which is providing support in the Horn of Africa. He deployed in June.
Not long after Trump’s remarks, Haley shot back while talking to voters at a campaign stop in Gilbert, South Carolina.
“I am proud of Michael’s service. Every military spouse knows it’s a family sacrifice. … If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone being president of the United States,” Haley said, NBC News reported.
“Donald, if you have something to say, don’t say it behind my back. Get on a debate stage and say it to my face,” she said.
Haley also bashed Trump on social media.
“Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about,” Haley tweeted. “Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander in chief.”
Michael Haley also appeared to throw shade at the ex-president, tagging him in a tweet with a a meme that read: “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.”
Trump also on Saturday claimed that he warned NATO allies if they didn’t pay their dues to the military alliance, that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to them.
The 45th president relayed the story while boasting about his negotiating abilities.
“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’” Trump said. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”
It’s not clear if the conversation ever happened or if Trump ever intended to follow through on the threat.
Trump has long been vocal about his dissatisfaction with NATO member states not paying their fair share, leaving the United States to foot the bill.
Haley and Trump will face off in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, where Trump, the clear GOP frontrunner, looks to defeat Haley in her home state and notch his fourth consecutive primary or caucus win.