The GOP front-runner referred to Haley on his Truth Social platform as “Nimbra,” a twist of Haley’s first name Nimarata, after previously using “Nimrada.” Haley has gone by her middle name, Nikki, since her childhood.
Trump, in a post to the platform earlier this month, also promoted a birther conspiracy theory that claims Haley is ineligible to be president.
The former United Nations ambassador and the daughter of Indian immigrants was born in South Carolina, a state where she later became governor.
“And with her, it’s just something that came. It’s a little bit of a takeoff on her name. You know, her name, wherever she may come from. But it’s just a little –,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier in an interview that aired Sunday.
“What do you mean by that?” Baier asked.
“It’s a little bit of a takeoff. I look at her name. I look at a lot of people. You know, I do a lot of names for people like ‘Pocahontas,’” said Trump, referring to his attack on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“I have fun with it. And sometimes, to tell you the truth, it’s a very effective tool.”
Critics have slammed the Obama birther for adding to his history of racist attacks and compared the Haley insults to his use of “Hussein,” Barack Obama’s middle name that he’s used to refer to his presidential predecessor.
Trump has also mispronounced Vice President Kamala Harris’ first name on several occasions and, in 2019, he told members of the Democratic “squad” in Congress to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Three of the four “squad” lawmakers were born in the U.S. while Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who was born in Somalia, became a U.S. citizen in 2000.
Haley, when asked about the name-calling during a CNN town hall on Thursday, said it’s a tactic that the former president uses when he “feels threatened.”
“That’s what he does when he feels insecure. I don’t take these things personally. It doesn’t bother me. I know him very well and this is what he does. I know that I am a threat. I know that’s why he’s doing that,” Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“So it’s not going to waste any energy for me. I’m going to continue to focus on the things that people want to talk about. And not get into the name-calling back with him.”