Former President Donald J. Trump has recently started paying attention to Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and his rival in the 2024 presidential race. This comes after Ms. Haley’s strong debate performances, which have given her a boost in momentum. In polls of the early voting states New Hampshire and South Carolina, she has surpassed Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida as the second-place contender behind Mr. Trump. However, Mr. Trump attacked her as a “birdbrain” on his social media site, Truth Social, and even sent her a bird cage and seed to her hotel.
According to a post that Ms. Haley shared on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the bird cage came with a handwritten note attached to the bars, stating that it came from the Trump campaign. Ms. Haley sees this attention from Mr. Trump as a sign that he now views her as a real threat. Betsy Ankney, her campaign manager, called the behavior “weird, creepy, and desperate.”
The bitter exchanges between Ms. Haley and Mr. Trump are the latest development in their long relationship. Despite leading in the polls against Ms. Haley and other primary rivals, Mr. Trump has been mostly silent about her since she began her campaign. Ms. Haley has walked a fine line between praising and criticizing Mr. Trump, recognizing his accomplishments but also pointing out his flaws. She disagrees with his views on the events of January 6, 2021, when the U.S. Capitol was attacked by pro-Trump supporters.
When Ms. Haley won the Republican primary for South Carolina governor in 2010, Mr. Trump showed support by mailing her a campaign contribution. They had several meetings in New York, and he seemed to follow her career. However, she endorsed Senator Marco Rubio over Mr. Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Despite this, Mr. Trump still appointed her as U.N. ambassador and praised her upon her departure.