Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Friday said she doesn’t agree with former President Trump’s recent and controversial remarks calling his political opponents “vermin.”
“The reality is I don’t agree with that statement any more than I agree when he said Hezbollah was smart, or any more than I agree when he hit Netanyahu when his country was on its knees after all that brutality,” Haley said at a town hall in Iowa, according to footage shared by Forbes.
Her comments come nearly a week after Trump said during a Veterans Day speech that he would “root out … the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”
“It’s the chaos of it all, right? And so I think he means well. But the chaos has got to stop,” Haley said in Iowa. “And over and over again we feel it.”
Trump’s “vermin” remark prompted swift backlash as many likened the rhetoric to that of dictators during World War II.
Haley said she had a “good working relationship” with the former president during her tenure as ambassador to the United Nations under his administration, adding “he knows I saved him on some things.”
She pointed to Republicans’ losses over the last few election cycles, saying “you don’t fix Democrat chaos with Republican chaos.”
Of Trump, she quipped that “yes, his personality’s not my personality, and yes, he says things he shouldn’t say.”
Haley, also the former governor of South Carolina, has been rising in recent polling, closing in on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who has long been considered Trump’s closest 2024 primary challenger — for second-place among the GOP field.
Trump holds a significant double-digit lead over his GOP competitors, as Haley and DeSantis look to best each other in the upcoming Iowa caucuses.