Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley accused former President Donald Trump of mocking the U.S. armed forces and said such comments were to blame for low military recruitment in the United States.
Haley’s comments were in response to Trump’s attacks directed at her husband, Maj. Michael Haley, who is currently serving a year-long deployment with the South Carolina National Guard in Africa. The former president taunted Haley over her husband’s absence at a campaign event Saturday, telling supporters, “What happened to her husband?”
Speaking to CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Monday, Haley said her husband was “angry” over Trump’s words, adding: “him and his brothers and sisters, they’re not just going there to laugh and giggle , they go there because they I still believe in this amazing experience that is America.”
“They are willing to sacrifice their lives and the lives of their families because they still believe that America is worth fighting for,” Haley continued. “And when someone makes fun of it or makes fun of it, everyone wonders: What’s happening to America? And it’s a very sad situation.
“If you want to understand why recruiting is down in the military… it’s because of comments like that,” she added. “It’s because of the way America has treated our veterans.”
Trump has been accused in the past of making disparaging comments about the US military. His former chief of staff, John Kelly, said in an exclusive statement to CNN last fall that Trump called military personnel and veterans “losers” and “suckers” because “that has nothing to do with them “. The former president dismissed Kelly’s allegations and called him “the stupidest member of my military.”
Others have also come to the Haleys’ defense since Trump’s comments over the weekend. Republican campaign strategist Scott Jennings said the former president’s comments were a “shot below the belt,” and called him an “a******.” President Joe Biden also posted on Sunday about Trump’s comments on it slapped him across the face.
“If you criticize one veteran, you criticize one veteran, you criticize them all,” Haley added during her appearance on CNN on Monday.
News week contacted the Trump campaign via email for comment.
Military recruitment has been in decline for decades. The number of active-duty military personnel in the U.S. armed forces has declined 39% since 1987. The Army and Air Force missed their respective targets by nearly 10,000 recruits in 2023, while the Navy missed its goal of 6,000.
Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder addressed low recruiting numbers during a December 2023 news conference, but added that the services are working to adapt to challenges, including in being “very active and creative in figuring out how we can communicate with the public.” that we serve. »
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