Nikki Haley pounces on Trump with an obvious — and opportunistic — takedown

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Nikki Haley pounces on Trump with an obvious — and opportunistic — takedown

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Alex Isenstadt

Nikki Haley knows a green light when she sees one. Throughout her career, Haley has shown she has a grasp of political timing. The former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations knows how to ride the political winds — whichever way they happen to be blowing — to her advantage (South Carolina’s formerly flown Confederate flag serves as evidence). 

That was the case over the weekend, when Haley, Donald Trump and other GOP presidential candidates appeared at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual summit. Among other remarks, Haley raked the former president over the coals for his personal attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his praise for militant group Hezbollah, as well as Trump’s embrace of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping:

As president, I will not compliment Hezbollah. Nor will I criticize Israel’s prime minister in the middle of a tragedy in war. We have no time for personal vendettas. I will also not compliment Chinese communist President Xi. Nor will I call North Korea’s Kim Jong Un my friend. These are not good or smart people.

She also wrote on X: “The stakes couldn’t be higher… we can’t have 4 years of chaos, vendettas, & drama. We can’t afford to go down that road — not now.”

In today’s GOP, with members almost uniformly servile to Trump, these tame and seemingly obvious remarks are about as close to a condemnation as we can expect. 

Haley’s moment seemed bound to happen. Several of the GOP presidential candidates were set to speak at the Las Vegas gathering, which is why I told readers last week to be on the lookout for one or more of them to savage Trump for political gain. Haley took her shot. And, for what it’s worth, she seems to have connected. She got some applause, at least. But to what end? 

Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reported that Trump still stole the show. The Messenger’s Marc Caputo had a similar view, finding that even with Haley and fellow candidate Ron DeSantis impressing the crowd, Trump still dominated the event. Just read this quote that the RJC’s CEO gave to The Messenger: 

The RJC’s leader, Matt Brooks, said the organization is staying neutral, but “clearly Trump has a significant record to run on to make his case to the Jewish community. Nobody questions when the chips are down and when push comes to shove, Donald Trump has and will be a strong defender of Israel and he has demonstrated that he’s willing to buck conventional wisdom to do what any previous president had been unwilling or unable to do.”

Haley may have landed a few blows on Trump. But the RJC summit showed that there are right-wingers in his corner acting as cutmen, ready to clean up any blemishes he experiences. Which is good for Trump but bad for Republicans looking to challenge him — and for democracy itself, of course.

Alex Isenstadt

Ja’han Jones

Ja’han Jones is The ReidOut Blog writer. He’s a futurist and multimedia producer focused on culture and politics. His previous projects include “Black Hair Defined” and the “Black Obituary Project.”

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