Have you ever woken up to a tweet from President Donald Trump that caught you off guard?
The impromptu social media declarations keep Nikki Haley on her toes as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and she has had plenty of those mornings.
“More times than I can tell you,” she told David Axelrod on Thursday night during a forum at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.
“This clearly is a president who likes social media, and so for everybody that doesn’t like his tweets, it’s not going to stop. It’s who he is, it’s what he does,” she said.
Axelrod asked if Trump’s trigger-finger tweets make her job harder.
“It makes it interesting,” Haley said to bursts of laughter.
“I think it’s interesting that in that when I wake up, I don’t know what he’s going to tweet about, so you know you’re alway kind of moving though life with his tweets in mind.”
The ambassador, whose uncle George Haley is a professor emeritus of Spanish literature at the University of Chicago, touched on a range of international affairs issues during the hourlong talk, including peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are being led by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Axelrod pressed Haley on when their peace proposal would be presented.
“I think they’re finishing it up,” she said.
On North Korea, Haley said “all options are on the table” if dictator Kim Jong Un doesn’t terminate the country’s nuclear program.
“Nobody wants war. That’s always the last option. You only do it when you know there’s a real threat,” Haley said. “But this is all up to North Korea.”
She claimed the recent apparent easing of tension between North Korea and South Korea evidenced by the rogue nation’s participation in the Olympics was just “public relations damage control” as a result of economic sanctions crippling North Korea.
“It was a sign of desperation, not national pride,” Haley said.
Haley said Trump gave her a foreshadowing of at least one of his signature Twitter monikers before hitting “send.” She recounted talking to the president last fall before he addressed the U.N. General Assembly, and counseling him to temper expectations.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, you need to understand this is a serious crowd. They’re not going to rally, they’re not going to cheer. That’s just not who these people are, so don’t take it the wrong way. Just think of it as a church.”
Then, according to Haley, the president asked: “What do you think about me saying ‘Little Rocket Man’ in the speech?” in reference to his now-infamous nickname for Kim Jong Un.
“I said, ‘Well, it’s kind of a formal crowd. Um, it would be different,'” Haley recalled.
“He said, ‘I think it’s catchy.'”
And it stuck right away.
“I have an African president that I met with right after [the speech], and he’s not even using Kim’s name. He’s calling him ‘Little Rocket Man,'” Haley said. “It works.”