Despite his repeated bragging that he “aced” a cognitive test while in office, many have questioned Trump’s mental fitness to be president in recent days. His opponent, former Trump cabinet member Nikki Haley, is making political hay out of his recent flub where he confused her with former House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Don’t be surprised if you have someone that is 80 in office, their mental stability is going to continue to decline. That’s just human nature,” the former South Carolina governor said Sunday on Face the Nation. (Trump is 77 years-old and would be 78 on inauguration day 2025). She added, “I don’t know if he was confused, I don’t know what happened, but it’s enough to send us a warning sign.”
Did @NikkiHaley ever question Donald Trump’s mental fitness when she served in his cabinet?
“I called him out if he was doing something wrong,” but she says that Trump is now “just not at the same level he was at 2016. I think we're seeing some of that decline.” pic.twitter.com/D5coEaehEs
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 21, 2024
Trump during a Friday campaign speech said that “Nikki Haley” was “in charge of security” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, repeating Haley’s name four times where he almost certainly meant to say Pelosi’s. Not only did Trump confuse Haley and Pelosi, he also repeated a claim that he offered to send 10,000 troops, which has been fully debunked by the Jan. 6 committee.
“Nikki Haley, you know they, do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it, because of lots of things like Nikki Haley is in charge of security,” Trump told the rally crowd, although it’s unclear what exactly he claims Haley (or Pelosi) deleted. “We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard, whatever they want. They turned it down. They don’t want to talk about that. These are very dishonest people.”
When Margaret Brennan incredulously asked Haley if this was the first time she ever questioned Trump’s mental fitness, Haley listed a number of his recent flubs, but she conveniently skirted around Brennan’s question about whether she questioned Trump’s cognitive abilities while she served in his cabinet.
“[Trump] claimed that Joe Biden was going to get us into World War II. I’m assuming he meant World War III,” Haley said. “He said that he ran against President Obama. He never ran against President Obama. He says that I’m the one that kept security from the Capitol on Jan. 6. I was nowhere near the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
Trump has defended his switching Biden and Obama’s names last November by claiming he did it “sarcastically.”
“When you worked in his cabinet, did you ever question his mental fitness?” Brennan asked Haley.
“When I worked in his cabinet, I called him out if he was doing something wrong,” Haley said, dodging the question. “I would show up, I’d pick up the phone and say, ‘You can’t do this, instead you could do X, Y, or Z… but this is different. We’re seeing he’s just not at the level he was in 2016. I think we’re seeing some of that decline. But more than that, what I’ll say is, focus on the fact that no matter what it is, chaos follows him. Rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him, and America is tired.”
“Does he cause it?” Brennan interjected.
“In some cases he causes it. In some cases he doesn’t, but regardless, he’s like a magnet to it,” Haley said.
Voters have demonstrated concern for both Biden and Trump’s mental fitness, although Biden hasn’t made Trump’s cognitive abilities a campaign issue the way Trump has done to Biden. And that may be reflected in the polls. An NBC News poll from Sept. 2023 found that 74 percent of respondents had major or moderate concerns about Biden “not having the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term,” while only 47 percent said the same of Trump’s mental and physical health.
Trump is currently leading over Haley in New Hampshire polls by eleven points. The Granite State heads to the polls for the primary on Tuesday.
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