Trump mocks Nikki Haley's Indian birth name in latest attack

Republican front-runner has suggested former UN ambassador is ineligible for presidency because of her parents' heritage

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination in Manchester, New Hampshire. AFP
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Former US president Donald Trump mocked former UN ambassador Nikki Haley's birth name in the latest apparent attack on his Republican rival's heritage in the days before the New Hampshire primary.

In a post on his Truth Social platform on Friday, Mr Trump referred to Ms Haley as “Nimbra” three separate times. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Ms Haley was born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa in South Carolina.

In the same post, Mr Trump said his Republican rival “doesn't have what it takes”.

Ms Haley took her current surname after she married in 1996.

“I’ll let people decide what he means by his attacks,” AP reported Ms Haley telling reporters in New Hampshire.

“What we know is, look, he’s clearly insecure if he goes and does these temper tantrums, if he’s spending millions of dollars on TV. He’s insecure, he knows that something’s wrong.”

The post was the latest personal attack Mr Trump launched against Ms Haley in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary, where the former Cabinet official is trying to cement herself as the most viable alternative to Mr Trump for the Republican nomination in the 2024 US election.

Last week, Mr Trump reposted a story that falsely suggested Ms Haley was disqualified from serving as president or vice president because of her parents' Indian heritage.

The conspiracy theory floated that she could not serve in either office because her parents were not US citizens when she was born. But she was born in South Carolina in 1972, therefore automatically becoming a natural US citizen.

The attack is reminiscent of the “birther” language Mr Trump used against Barack Obama, then falsely saying the then-Democratic candidate was born in Kenya and therefore not a “natural” US citizen. He used similar language against Kamala Harris during the 2020 election after she was chosen to be Joe Biden's running mate.

Ahead of next week's first-in-the-nation primary, Mr Trump also bragged about a cognitive test he took during his presidency, saying he was able to identify a whale among a series of other animals.

The New Hampshire primary will be held on January 23. Polling shows Mr Trump with a slight lead over Ms Haley.

Updated: January 20, 2024, 6:32 AM