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Haley assails Trump as ‘unhinged’ and dismisses calls to exit the race

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley holds a rally on Wednesday in North Charleston, S.C.  (Allison Joyce)
By Neil Vigdor New York Times

Nikki Haley on Friday called Donald Trump “totally unhinged” after a failed attempt by one of his allies to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee, escalating her attacks on his mental acuity.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, cast her onetime boss as increasingly antagonistic during an appearance on Fox News.

“Let’s look at the last 48 hours,” Haley said, and she went on to assail him over his combative rhetoric in his victory speech Tuesday in New Hampshire.

“He throws an absolute temper tantrum, talking about revenge,” she said. “Then he goes and says that he’s going to ban anyone from MAGA that donates to me.

“I mean, he’s totally unhinged,” she said.

She also accused him of being behind an RNC member’s plan to use a resolution to try to force the party to say the nominating contest was effectively over. But the plan was withdrawn after Trump rejected it in a post on his Truth Social website.

Haley, who lost to Trump, the GOP front-runner, by about 11 percentage points Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, has vowed that she will continue her uphill campaign.

Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, used Trump’s derogatory nickname for Haley, “birdbrain,” and said she “is trying to grasp at straws to gaslight voters because she’s nothing more than a Democrat with America Last policies that will destroy the country.”

The tenor between Haley and Trump has grown increasingly caustic since the race narrowed to just the two of them. Haley first hit at his age in the days before the New Hampshire primary, suggesting that “there is a decline.” Trump seethed at her refusal to quit the race in his victory speech.

In the Fox interview, she pushed back against the narrative that her loss in New Hampshire – where it was a two-candidate race – and her third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses Jan. 15 had left her an extremely narrow pathway to the nomination. Trump holds a commanding polling lead in South Carolina, her home state and the next major contest between them.

Haley also said that she had spoken to RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, who told Fox News on Tuesday after Trump’s victory, “We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump.”

“I let her know how disappointed I was,” Haley said.

Trump has ratcheted up the pressure on Haley to leave the race, suggesting that it is futile for her to move forward to the next contests. And he has argued that a protracted primary battle would squander time and money from the broader objective of challenging President Joe Biden in the November election.

“She is going to be embarrassed, and she will never be able to run for public office again,” Cheung said Friday.

Haley, for her part, has long argued that she is better positioned to beat Biden than her former boss is.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.