Nikki Haley hit out at “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin, calling her a “racist,” for accusing the former UN ambassador of acting like a “chameleon” and shielding her Indian heritage behind a fake name.
Hostin, 53, whose real name is Asunción Cummings Hostin, made the controversial remarks on Tuesday during a panel discussion about potential presidential candidates for the 2024 election.
Political pundit Alyssa Farah Griffin was saying that she would love to see Haley and Liz Cheney challenge Donald Trump for the White House when Hostin interjected, slamming the former governor of South Carolina as a “chameleon,” as Fox News Digital reported.
She later added: “What is her real name again?”
Haley was born in Bamberg, South Carolina, in 1972 and was given the name Nimrata Nikki. She has gone by her middle name, which is roughly translated from Hindu as “little one,” since at least high school, according to published reports.
Griffin pointed out that “a lot of people don’t go by their actual real names,” and she later brought up the fact that Haley has been known as “Nikki” since childhood.
Griffin speculated that as a woman of Indian heritage growing up in South Carolina in the 70s, she may have opted to change her name “to avoid prejudice.”
Hostin, however, doubled down on her critique, saying: “Yes, there are some of us that can be chameleons and decide not to embrace our ethnicities, so that we can pass …”
Co-host Sara Haines then jumped into the fray to remind the panelists and viewers that Hostin’s real name is not “Sunny.”
Hostin justified her use of a nickname instead of her birth name, saying: “most Americans can’t pronounce Asunción because of the under-education in our country.”
The on-air exchange sparked an outrage on Twitter, with many conservative commentators, led by Haley herself, labeling Hostin a bigot.
“Thanks for your concern @Sunny,” the ex-ambassador tweeted. “It’s racist of you to judge my name. Nikki is an Indian name and is on my birth certificate—and I’m proud of that.
“What’s sad is the left’s hypocrisy towards conservative minorities. By the way, last I checked Sunny isn’t your birth name…”
Curtis Houck, managing editor of the right-wing outlet NewsBusters, described Hostin’s remarks as a “disgusting smear.”
Seattle talk radio host Jason Rantz piled on: “TV’s dumbest lawyer @sunny Hostin effectively calls @NikkiHaley a sellout. Sunny is a vile human being.”
According to the new book “The Divider: Trump in The White House, 2017-2021,” co-written by The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser and The New York Times’ Petr Baker, during his presidency Trump refused to appoint Haley secretary of state because of her “complexion problem,” reported The Independent.