Nikki Haley said Thursday she showed great restraint when she called Vivek Ramaswamy “scum” after he went after her daughter during the third presidential debate.
“That showed a lot of restraint, that’s all I can say,” she told Fox News.
During the debate, Ramaswamy attacked Haley’s The 25-year-old daughter Rena because she has a TikTok account, which led to the former South Carolina going after him.
“This is a serious time in our country. And this is not the time to have these personal hits,” Haley said of his insult to her family. ‘My daughter is 25 years old.’
‘There are big problems happening in the world. Threats await us,” she added. “It was a shot that wasn’t necessary.”
She also said his words said more about him than about her.
“He threw a little shot there. I mean, it says more about him than it does about me,” she noted.
“That showed a lot of restraint, that’s all I’ll say,” Nikki Haley told Fox News about calling Vivek Ramaswamy “scum.”
Ramaswamy went after the former South Carolina governor during the tense showdown in Miami between candidates trying to close the gap with Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
But Haley erupted when Ramaswamy delivered a blow by targeting her family after calling Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy a “Nazi” in “cargo pants.”
“In the last debate she made fun of me for joining TikTok even though her own daughter had been using the app for a long time, so you might want to take care of your own family first,” he said.
“Keep my daughter’s name out of your voice,” Haley snapped back. “You’re just scum.”
The crowd booed Ramaswamy’s insult on a night that started with him attacking NBC moderators and his rivals.
Haley’s daughter Rena works as a pediatric nurse in South Carolina and was in the audience at the Florida debate.
Rena came on stage at the end of the evening to hug her mother. Ramaswamy, whose wife and sons came on stage to greet him, turned around the duo to avoid them.
Vivek Ramaswamy (right) attacked Nikki Haley’s (left) 25-year-old daughter Rena, who he noticed was on Tiktok after Haley criticized him for being on the app. “You might want to take care of your own family first,” he said. “Keep my daughter’s name out of your voice,” Haley snapped back, adding, “You’re just trash.”
In the aftermath Wednesday night, Haley told NBC News that as a mother she wanted to defend her daughter.
‘I’m a mother. So as soon as you start saying something about my 25-year-old daughter, I’m going to get back at it,” she explained.
‘But it’s not just about the personal. I just have so many problems with him,” and goes on to describe her differences with Ramaswamy on foreign policy and other issues.
And she delivered one final blow against her rival: “I don’t even give him the time of day,” she said of Ramaswamy. “He just proved that he is not qualified to be president of the United States. We really have serious problems. …Those are the things I wanted to talk about — not the fact that he got my heel size wrong.”
Meanwhile, Ramaswamy doubled down on his attack and said a candidate’s adult child is fair game. Ramaswamy has two young sons.
“I think this is a fair question about the lack of self-awareness,” he told CNN. Saying “no” isn’t a low blow to going after Haley’s adult daughter.
Ramaswamy was in attack mode from the start of the third Republican primary debate and was at times brutal in his takedown of his rivals and other top party figures.
He used his opening statement to offer Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, the opportunity to take the stage and resign. And he criticized the debate moderators, calling them Democrats and falsely accusing them of throwing out the 2020 election results, causing Donald Trump to lose.
He also went after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, calling the war hero a “Nazi” and “a comedian in cargo pants.” Zelensky, is Jewish.
“Ukraine is not a model of democracy,” he noted. “It honored a Nazi in its ranks – the comedian in cargo pants, a man named Zelensky – who did it in their own ranks. It’s not democratic.’
Nikki Haley with her daughter Rena on the debate stage. She works as a pediatric nurse in South Carolina and was in the audience at the Florida debate.
Michael Haley and Nikki Haley with their daughter Rena and her husband Joshua Jackson
Haley went after him again.
“I tell you (Vladimir Putin) and President (Xi Jinping) are salivating at the thought that such a person could become president. They would like to see that,” she said, pointing to Ramaswamy.
Many Republicans have called on the US to stop funding Ukraine’s fight against Russia, arguing that the money would be better spent in the United States.
Ramaswamy has been one of Ukraine’s biggest critics, but his personal attack on Zelenskiy was a step further than he has gone in the past.
“To frame this as some kind of battle between good and evil, don’t buy into that,” Ramaswamy said of the war in Ukraine.
Chris Christie also followed with an attack on Ramaswamy, warning: “those of us who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
But it was Ramaswamy who delivered the hardest punches of the night so far, accusing Haley of profiting from her political career and hurling insults across the debate stage.
He called Haley, who is ranked third in several polls, just behind second-place Ron DeSantis, a “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.”
Haley replied, “I would first like to say that they are 6 inch heels and I only wear them if you can run in them. …The second thing I would say is that I wear heels and they are not meant to be a fashion statement. They’re for ammunition.’
Ramaswamy left all the candidates – plus the head of the party – burning with anger.
He called on Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to resign, saying she was responsible for the party’s losses in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio on Tuesday night.
“Since Ronna McDaniel took over as chair of the RNC in 2017, we have lost 2018, 2020 and 2022 – not a red wave that never came. We were defeated last night in 2023,” he said.
‘And I think we have to be accountable within our party. On that note, Ronna, if you want to come on stage tonight, look Republican voters in the eye and tell them you’re resigning, I’ll turn around and surrender my time to you.”
Vivek Ramaswamy and his wife Apoorva watch their three-year-old son Karthik somersault on stage into his father’s arms at the end of the debate
Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley greet the crowd after the debate
The five candidates on stage for the third Republican primary debate: Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott
At the end of the debate, Ramaswamy was seen standing at the edge of the stage, leaning down to talk to McDaniel, who was sitting in the front row. The two appeared to be having a very heated conversation, talking animatedly and waving their hands at each other.
In addition, Ramaswamy attacked NBC News hosts Lester Holt and Kristen Welker, saying the moderators should be replaced by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, podcast host Joe Rogan and Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk.
“Kristen – I’m going to use this time because this is about you in the media and the corrupt media establishment, you ask – the Trump-Russia hoax that you pushed on this network for years, was that real or did Hillary Clinton break it up ? -disinformation? Answer the question. Go,” he demanded.
The NBC News moderator didn’t get a chance to respond as the audience applauded and cheered.
But later Welker was able to restrain Ramaswamy by telling him, “Mr. Ramaswamy, thank you. We ask the questions.’