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Haley questions Trump's mental fitness as he seems to confuse her with Nancy Pelosi

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tells the audience the best birthday present they can give her is their vote on Tuesday while speaking at a Pizza and Politics event at Franklin Pierce University, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Rindge, N.H.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tells the audience the best birthday present they can give her is their vote on Tuesday while speaking at a Pizza and Politics event at Franklin Pierce University, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Rindge, N.H.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nikki Haley on Saturday questioned whether Donald Trump is mentally capable of serving as president again after he repeatedly seemed to confuse her with former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign speech.

As she campaigned in Keene, New Hampshire, Haley referenced Trump's speech the night before, in which he mistakenly asserted that Haley was in charge of Capitol security on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building seeking to stop the certification of his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump first said that Haley turned down security offered by his administration on Jan. 6 and then again mentioned Haley, adding, "They destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it."

Trump, 77, has accused Pelosi of turning down security he says his administration offered, but a special House committee empaneled to probe the attack found no evidence to support that claim.

"They're saying he got confused, that he was talking about something else, he's talking about Nancy Pelosi," Haley said on Saturday.

"He mentioned me multiple times in that scenario. The concern I have is — I'm not saying anything derogatory — but when you're dealing with the pressures of the presidency, we can't have someone else that we question whether they're mentally fit to do this," Haley said. "We can't."

Speaking at a Bloomberg News forum on Saturday in Manchester, Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney referenced Haley's remarks and said Trump "made a pretty apparent gaffe last night."

"It's a distinction without a difference. It's Nikki and Nancy," Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita said to reporters Saturday night. "What's the difference?"

At his rally Saturday night in Manchester, Trump said that he took a cognitive test and "aced it."

"I'll let you know when I go bad. I really think I'll be able to tell you," he added. "I feel my mind is stronger now than it was 25 years ago. Is that possible?"

Trump, who won Monday's Iowa caucuses and is the current GOP front-runner, picked Haley to serve as his United Nations ambassador and has ramped up his criticism of her campaign as the year's votes have gotten underway.

On Saturday, he stumped in New Hampshire with a robust complement of backers from Haley's home state of South Carolina, including Gov. Henry McMaster and several U.S. House members. A day earlier, Sen. Tim Scott — who ended his own 2024 bid in November and was appointed to the Senate by Haley in 2012 — endorsed Trump over Haley in a rousing call-and-response speech of his own in New Hampshire.

Since entering the GOP race nearly a year ago, Haley, 52, has advocated for "mental competency tests" for older politicians, a swipe at the ages of both Trump and Biden.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press