Not missing at all: Major Michael Haley.
Photo: Mic Smith/AP
Donald Trump loves to flip any attack lobbed at him back on his enemies, even if the counter-accusation makes no sense. For example, Hillary Clinton said Trump was a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin during a debate, and he shot back, “No puppet. You’re the puppet!” When states removed Trump from the 2024 ballot over his involvement in the January 6 riot, he then claimed Joe Biden is the real insurrectionist.
This tactic often works for the ex-president; as the New York Times observed earlier this year, it allows him to “muddy the waters” by suggesting that even if he isn’t clean, “everyone else is dirty” too. But sometimes it backfires spectacularly, like on Saturday when he questioned why Nikki Haley’s husband Michael hasn’t been on the 2024 campaign trail. “Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away. He’s away,” Trump said at a rally in South Carolina, seemingly suggesting that the Haleys are having marital trouble.
For the past year, Trump has been dogged by questions about his own spouse’s whereabouts. The former First Lady has yet to appear at a Trump rally or court appearance, and someone memorably hired a plane to fly a banner featuring the question “Where’s Melania?” over an Iowa football game Trump attended in September.
But as it turns out, “Where’s Michael Haley?” has a simple answer: He’s been deployed to Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard since June 2023.
Presumably Trump was unaware of this and just wanted to stir up some baseless rumors about his last remaining Republican-primary opponent. But Nikki Haley immediately jumped on the opportunity to accuse Trump of disrespecting the military. She responded on X:
And Michael Haley posted this meme, which he directed at Trump:
Hours later, Nikki Haley said at a rally in South Carolina, “Donald, if you have something to say, don’t say it behind my back; get on a debate stage and say it to my face.” She added, “If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone being president of the United States.”
By Monday, the Haley campaign had packaged this response, along with previous allegations of Trump’s insulting remarks about the late Senator John McCain and other service members, into a digital spot that’s part of a $4 million ad buy, as ABC News reported.
Of course, it’a bit tricky for Haley to pursue this line of attack against Trump, since she accepted a position in his Cabinet years after he got into a fight with a Gold Star family and said of McCain, who was prisoner of war in Vietnam, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
But Joe Biden doesn’t have that problem. He used Trump’s Michael Haley misstep to preview a message he’ll certainly be pushing in the general election:
Assuming Trump sticks to his idiotic “I’m rubber, you’re glue” strategy, Biden should probably brace himself for a “Where’s Jill?” from his likely opponent.