In a Tuesday night post on Truth Social, Donald Trump referred to Nikki Haley by a misspelled version of her first name. The move seemed extremely reminiscent of Trump’s repeated use of “Barack HUSSIEN Obama,” and like that usage, Trump’s post appears meant to drive home the fact that Haley’s parents are immigrants.
“Anyone listening to Nikki ‘Nimrada’ Haley’s wacked out speech last night, would think that she won the Iowa Primary,” Trump wrote, “She didn’t, and she couldn’t even beat a very flawed Ron DeSanctimonious, who’s out of money, and out of hope.”
Haley’s actual first name is “Nimarata.” It would be tempting to think Trump mangled the spelling to bring it closer to “Nimrod,” but this is probably just another example of Trump’s inability to spell in any language. Following Trump’s resorting to birtherism against Haley just before the vote in Iowa, this shows Trump has now moved to the blaring dog whistle part of his campaign plan. Next stop: full-bore racism.
Despite frequent claims on the right, Nikki Haley did not change her name for politics. Nikki (Punjabi for “little one”) was her middle name at birth and the name she was always called growing up. Haley is her married name.
But it was only a matter of time before Trump dragged some part of Nimarata Randhawa–Haley’s birth name–into the primary season. Trump sycophant Vivek Ramaswamy already did this in an effort to mock Haley and gain favor with Trump supporters.
Trump may have originally been relaxed, and even encouraging about Haley’s run, but now that Haley and Trump are in a tie heading into New Hampshire, both of their comments are getting a little harsher. In her last Iowa debate performance, Haley said, “Just because President Trump says something doesn’t make it true.” That might be the mildest possible criticism, but it’s still seen as high heresy in some Republican circles.
Trump naturally responded by calling Haley “wacked out” (again, spelling is not his thing), a “birdbrain,” and reminding everyone that she is other, other, other. Seeing that New Hampshire, like Iowa, is whiter than a bottle of bleach spilled on snow, that may seem like a good bet. But Trump’s unleashing his birtherism also harkens back to some of his most noteworthy moments of public ridicule.
As recently as December, Trump was reportedly checking out Haley as a potential vice president. That might seem to conflict with Trump putting up a social media post saying she was ineligible. It might also be a bit uncomfortable to have Haley on the ticket when Trump has promised to end birthright citizenship.
But in a pinch, both of them could probably make this work. Of course, this is only possible if Haley survives the worst thing Trump could throw at her.