Republican candidates criticize Trump for comments on Kim Jong-Un: "You don't congratulate a thug"

Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and even Mike Pence, who is expected to enter the race in the coming days, all took aim at the former president.

North Korea was admitted to the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO). The news broke on Saturday, June 3, and one of the first to express approval was Donald Trump. The former president took to Truth Social to congratulate Kim Jong-Un, which earned him some criticism from his rivals in the Republican primaries. However, one of the most surprising critiques came from a person who is not yet a candidate, Mike Pence.

On June 30, 2019, Trump became the first president in U.S. history to set foot in North Korea. The then-president participated in what became known as the 2019 Korea-U.S. DMZ Summit. Almost four years later, the now-presidential candidate congratulated the North Korean dictator on his accession to the WHO.

Congratulations to Kim Jong-Un,” he wrote on his Truth Social account, accompanying the message with a news story explaining the events. This statement did not go down well with his competitors in the Republican primaries, who lined up to criticize him. One of the first to do so was Mike Pence, who has yet to enter the race. The former vice president is expected to enter the race in the coming days and has already begun indirectly bashing his former boss.

Truth Social

“No one should be praising the dictator in North Korea or praising the leader of Russia who has launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine. This is a time when we ought to make it clear to the world that we stand for freedom and we stand with those who stand for freedom,” he said during a visit to Iowa, where he accompanied Governor Joni Ernst to an event.

“I mean, they literally were complicitous in covering up what was happening in China, and we held them to account during our administration,” he added.

Ron DeSantis also referred to the post on social networks and did not hesitate to take aim at his biggest rival for the Republican nomination. When asked about it, he said he was “surprised” by Trump’s comments about Kim Jong-Un, whom he described as a “murderous dictator.

On the other hand, Nikki Haley defined North Korea’s accession to the WHO as a “total farce.” Regarding the statements made by her former boss, she was blunt when she said, “You don’t congratulate a thug. [...] I mean, let’s keep in mind this. This thug has threatened America. It’s threatened our allies, over and over again,” added the former ambassador to the United Nations during part of the Trump Administration.

“This is not something to play with. I mean, he’s a terrible individual. He’s terrible to his people, he’s terrible to our allies in the world, and I don’t think he deserves congratulations,” she concluded.

The latest to join the party was Asa Hutchinson. The former Arkansas governor is looking to boost his name recognition heading into the August 23 debate, and he used the occasion to criticize Trump. “Kim Jong-Un, the tyrant dictator in North Korea, should not be praised by Donald Trump for a leadership role in the World Health Organization,” Hutchinson wrote. “We sanction leaders who oppress their people. We do not elevate them on the world stage,” he wrote on his Twitter account.