2024 Hopefuls Hit Trump For Congratulating Kim Jong Un

(Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A pair of Donald Trump’s 2024 Republican competitors for the presidency criticized him Saturday for congratulating Kim Jong Un.

The two former members of his administration spoke out against the former president for celebrating the North Korean dictator’s appointment to the World Health Organization (WHO), according to Fox News.

Fox News interviewed 2024 GOP candidates Mike Pence and Nikki Haley in Iowa at Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual Roast and Ride fundraiser.

“Whether it’s my former running mate or anyone else, nobody should be praising the dictator in North Korea or praising the leader in Russia, who has launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine,” Pence said. “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.”

Former Vice President Pence is set to launch his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday.

“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. This is not something to play with,” Haley said. “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.”

Haley was the second to declare her candidacy in a video released in February. She served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration. (RELATED: ‘Nobody Wants Biden’: Wall Street Quietly Hopes Another Dem Wins The Party Nomination: REPORT)

The controversy began when Trump made a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, linking to an article by American Greatness Friday afternoon.

“Congratulations to Kim Jung Un!” Trump posted, sharing the link.

North Korea successfully attained a seat on the WHO’s Executive Board Tuesday, gaining the influence to help shape the WHO’s policies and agenda. Dr. Jong Min Pak represents North Korea on the WHO’s executive board until his term runs out in 2026.

Other new board members include Australia, Barbados, Cameroon, Qatar, Switzerland and Ukraine, according to WHO documents posted on Twitter.

Presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis also commented on Trump’s congratulatory statement to the totalitarian leader.

“I was surprised to see that,” DeSantis said. “I mean I think one, I think Kim Jong Un is a murderous dictator.”

The Trump campaign responded to the criticism by taking aim at their top rival.

“President Trump achieved peace through strength and, as a result, no new wars were started under his presidency. On the other hand, Ron DeSantis is a puppet of the establishment war mongers and doesn’t have the strength, fortitude, or will to stand up against America’s adversaries,” Trump campaign spokesman Steve Cheung said.

Trump was the only declared 2024 candidate who did not attend the Roast and Ride fundraiser.