Nikki Haley called Vivek Ramaswamy ‘scum’ after he attacked her 25-year-old daughter for having a TikTok account while she was sitting in the audience of the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday.
Ramaswamy went after the former South Carolina governor throughout the tense showdown in Miami between the candidates trying to close the gap with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
But Haley erupted when Ramaswamy delivered a low blow by targeting her family after he called Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky a ‘Nazi’ in ‘cargo pants’.
‘In the last debate, she made fun of me for joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually 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 which began with him tearing into the NBC moderators and his rivals.
Haley’s daughter Rena works as a paediatric 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 mom. Ramaswamy, who wife and sons came on stage to greet him, swung around the duo to avoid them.
Vivek Ramaswamy (right) attacked Nikki Haley’s (left) 25-year-old daughter Rena, who he noted 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 scum’
The crowd booed as the heated conversation got personal.
In the aftermath, Haley told NBC News that, as a mom, she wanted to defend her daughter.
‘I’m a mom. So the second you start saying something about my 25-year-old daughter I’m going to get back my back up,’ she explained.
‘But it’s not just about the personal. I just have so many issues with him,’ going on describe her differences with Ramaswamy on foreign policy and other issues.
And she got in one final jab at her rival: ‘I don’t even give him the time of day,’ she said of Ramaswamy. ‘He has just proven he is not qualified to be president of the United States. We’ve got real serious issues. … Those are the things I wanted to talk about — not the fact that he got my heels size wrong.’
Meanwhile Ramaswamy doubled down on his attack, saying a candidates’ adult child is fair game. Ramaswamy has two young sons.
‘I do think that’s a fair question to ask about the lack of self awareness,’ he told CNN. saying ‘no’ it’s not a low blow to go after Haley’s adult daughter.
Ramaswamy was in attack mode from the start of the third Republican primary debate, at times being brutal in his take down of his rivals and other top party figures.
He used his opening statement to offer Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel the opportunity to come up on stage and resign. And he criticized the debate moderators, calling them Democrats and falsely accusing them of throwing the 2020 election results so Donald Trump lost.
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 paragon of democracy,’ he noted. ‘It celebrated a Nazi in its ranks — the comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelensky — doing it in their own ranks. It is not democratic.’
Nikki Haley with her daughter Rena on the debate stage. She works as a paediatric 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’m telling you [Vladimir Putin] and President [Xi Jinping] are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president. They would love to see that,’ she said pointing at Ramaswamy.
Many Republicans have called for the U.S. to stop funding Ukraine’s fight against Russia, arguing the money would be better off spent in the United States.
Ramaswamy has been one of Ukraine’s biggest critics but his personal attack on Zelensky was a step further than he’s gone in the past.
‘To frame this as some kind of battle between good and evil, don’t buy it,’ Ramaswamy said of the war in Ukraine.
Chris Christie also followed up with an attack on Ramaswamy, warning, ‘those of us who forget history are doomed to repeat it.’
But it was Ramaswamy who threw the hardest punches of the night so far, accusing Haley of profiting off her political career and hurling insults around the debate stage.
He called Haley, who is running in third place in several polls, closely behind the second-place Ron DeSantis, a ‘Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.’
Haley hit back: ‘I’d first like to say they’re 5-inch heels and I don’t wear them unless you can run in them. … The second thing I would say is I wear heels and they’re not for a fashion statement. They’re for ammunition.’
Ramaswamy had all the candidates – plus the head of the party – burning in fury.
He called on Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel to resign, saying she was to blame for the party’s losses in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio on Tuesday night.
‘Since Ronna McDaniel took over as chairwoman of the RNC in 2017, we have lost 2018, 2020, 2022 – no red wave that never came. We got trounced last night in 2023,’ he said.
‘And I think that we have to have accountability in our party. For that matter, Ronna, if you want to come on stage tonight, you want to look the GOP voters in the eye and tell them you resign, I’ll turn over and yield my time to you.’
Vivek Ramaswamy and his wife Apoorva watch their three-year-old son Karthik do a somersault in his father’s arms onstage at the conclusion 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 stage, bending down to talk to McDaniel, who was seated in the front row. The two appeared to be having a very heated conversation, talking animatedly and waving their hands at each other.
Additionally, Ramaswamy attacked NBC News hosts Lester Holt and Kristen Welker and said the moderators should be replaced with 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, ask you – the Trump-Russia collusion hoax that you pushed on this network for years, was that real or Hillary Clinton made-up disinformation? Answer the question. Go,’ he demanded.
The NBC News moderator did not get a chance to respond as the audience applauded and cheered.