Yesterday, about 22 minutes after Presidential contender (and Super Tuesday Republican winner) Donald Trump tweeted that “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”, Governor Haley got back to him with a short reply — three words, to be exact.
The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2016
@realDonaldTrump, Bless your heart.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) March 1, 2016
For anyone unsure what the reply “Bless your heart” might mean coming from a Southerner, here’s a card with a short answer:
(For a longer, nuanced discussion of “Bless your heart” dive into Kelly Faircloth’s “Bless Your Heart: A Meditation, A Taxonomy, A Eulogy“)
Trump’s Twitter attack against Haley, who has been campaigning with Sen. Marco Rubio, was prompted by the inconsistency with her 2012 comments that calls for Mitt Romney to disclose his income tax returns were a “distraction” compared to her recent call for Trump to disclose his income tax returns.
But the feud between the two actually goes back beyond their recent tweets and the discussion about tax returns. It goes back at least to this year’s State of the Union address, when Haley was selected to deliver the Republican party’s response to Obama’s speech.
In her speech, Haley never mentioned Trump by name, but in the aftermath of his bigoted comments about banning all Muslims from entering the nation, the implication was clear:
During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
Even before the speech, in December 2015, Haley had called out Trump’s proposal to close the country’s borders to Muslims as “an embarrassment to the Republican party.” So Trump’s choice of words on Twitter seems pointed, and so does Haley’s decision to give him the quintessentially Southern brush-off.
* * *