GOP candidates slam Trump for praising Kim Jong Un after WHO adds North Korea to its board

Several Republican presidential candidates have taken aim at former President Donald Trump for praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the hermit kingdom was elected to the World Health Organization board last week.

“Congratulations to Kim Jung [sic] UN!” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Friday.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as US Ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized Trump’s post at the ‘Roast and Ride’ event of GOP Sen. Joni Ernst on Saturday in Iowa.

“Kim Jong Un is a thug and a bully, and he tested ballistic missiles against our allies,” Haley said. “He threatened us. There is nothing to congratulate him. I mean, he was terrible with his people. It’s been terrible for America, and we need to stop being nice to countries that hate America.

DeSantis said he was “surprised” Trump praised Kim, calling him a “murderous dictator.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to announce a presidential candidacy this week, criticized Trump for congratulating Kim.

“Whether it’s my former running mate or anyone else, no one should praise the dictator in North Korea or the leader in Russia, who launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine,” Pence said on Saturday. in an interview on Fox News. “This is a time when we need to make it clear to the world that we stand for freedom and stand with those who stand for freedom.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson also piled on Trump in a Tweeter Saturday: “Kim Jong-Un, the tyrant dictator in North Korea should not be congratulated by Donald Trump for his leadership role in the World Health Organization. We punish leaders who oppress their people. We don’t raise them on the world stage.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who has ruled out running for president but recently hosted a private donor retreat to raise money for GOP candidates, also joined the fray. “Taking our country back from Joe Biden doesn’t start with congratulating North Korea’s murderous dictator,” he tweeted.

Kemp drew Trump’s ire after refusing to push baseless allegations of voter fraud in Georgia.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung attacked DeSantis in a statement, saying the Iowa event, which Trump did not attend, would not affect Trump’s status as a frontrunner.

“President Trump won peace by force and therefore no new wars were started under his presidency. On the other hand, Ron DeSantis is a puppet of the establishment war mongers and does not didn’t have the strength, the courage or the will to stand against America’s adversaries,” Cheung said. “In Iowa, there were far better candidates than DeSantis who didn’t come across as a clumsy copycat and wood of Jeb Bush.”

He also touted Trump’s record on the economy, energy, the southern border and foreign policy.

In 2019, Trump became the first sitting US president to set foot on North Korean soil since the 1953 armistice split the peninsula, having met with Kim twice before.

During his presidency, Trump claimed he had “developed a very, very good relationship” with Kim.

“We’ll see what that means,” Trump said in remarks to governors in February 2019. “But he’s never had a relationship with anyone from this country and hasn’t had much of a relationship anywhere. “

Kim also praised Trump in a letter to the White House ahead of a summit between them in Vietnam in 2019, while making clear he wanted to negotiate only with Trump and not his envoys, officials said at the time. current and former US officials.

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