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Haley Launches Ad in New Hampshire Featuring Warmbier Family

Amb. Nikki Haley announced a new ad featuring the family of Otto Warmbier, an American wrongfully detained in North Korea for over a year.

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On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Nikki Haley wants voters to think about leadership on the world stage, and then about character.

Her campaign will air a three-minute television ad featuring the mother of Otto Warmbier, the young American who was wrongfully detained in North Korea for more than a year and died shortly after his release.

“When we were begging the Obama administration for help, they told us to be quiet and be patient,” Cynthia Warmbier said last February while introducing the candidate at the launch of the Haley presidential campaign. “Nikki told us the opposite.”

“She told me it’s okay to be afraid, like I am now, but I had to push through the fear,” Warmbier continued in an excerpt that will begin playing over New England airwaves Monday.

“She told us to be loud and fight back,” Warmbier continued. “To fight for justice. To fight for ourselves. And to fight for Otto.”


The campaign heralded the ad as “unprecedented” given its length, and the decision to purchase six times the normal 30-second spot demonstrates deep pockets in an expensive media market while highlighting her foreign policy experience. The decision to feature the Warmbier family was also meant to contrast Haley with the previous two presidents.

The Warmbier family has publicly criticized former President Obama for not doing more for their son, and while they were guests of former President Trump at the 2018 State of the Union, expressing gratitude for his work to secure their son’s release, he has since continued his praise of the dictator of North Korea.

“He tells me that he didn’t know about it,” Trump said while standing next to Kim Jong Un at the DMZ, and I will take him at his word.” He added that the dictator “felt badly about it. He felt very badly.”

Haley, who had left the administration the previous year, publicly contradicted Trump’s warm words for the dictator. Now a rival of the former president, she has repeatedly knocked her old boss for cozying up to autocrats.

“I think that his policies were good,” Haley told an Iowa crowd last December. “But if you look at what’s happening now, the part that bothers me is our national security is at risk. And what’s he doing? He’s praising dictators.”


Trump has been in the habit of describing his relationship with dictators in warm terms despite the bipartisan criticism that often follows. Last month, he said at a New Hampshire rally that the Chinese president was out of “central casting.”

“There is nobody in Hollywood that can play the role of President Xi. The look, the strength, the voice. It’s good to have a good relationship with Putin and Xi, and all these people that like a nuclear weapon,” he said. “And Kim Jong Un, I have a good relationship with. These are tough, smart guys.”

Irregular in his approach to foreign policy as president, Trump was aware of how callous his praise would sound to the Warmbier family. His flattery of the despot, he told the Warmbier family, according to the memoir of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, served a larger purpose.

“Each time I meet with Kim Jong Un, I think of Otto, and I think of you too,” Trump told Cynthia and Fred Warmbier, according to the Kushner memoir. “It’s a tough situation. I feel like I have an obligation to hundreds of millions of people to try to get them to deescalate. But when I see the images from today’s meeting on television, I think about both of you at home watching it, and I know it’s so tough for you. I need to try to make a deal, but anyone with even a little bit of heart knows how hard this must be on you. Seeing us walk and talk and smile – it might look hunky-dory, but it’s not. I need to act like that for diplomacy, but it’s hard. I don’t know how you handle losing your son. You are amazing people.”

Removed from any diplomatic mission, and a candidate once again, Trump has not, however, changed his rhetoric.


This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

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White House Correspondent at | Website | + posts

Philip Wegmann is White House Correspondent for Real Clear Politics. He previously wrote for The Washington Examiner and has done investigative reporting on congressional corruption and institutional malfeasance.

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