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Nikki Haley takes on Donald Trump with some Southern wit

The Trump campaign is seeking to portray Haley as a hypocrite over tax return criticism

CNN  — 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday brushed aside a series of attacks by Donald Trump and his top lieutenants with a quintessentially Southern response.

“Bless your heart,” the Palmetto State governor tweeted at Trump, brushing him back with some sharp-elbowed charm.

Haley, who endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before South Carolina’s February 20 primary – which Trump won handily – has ramped up her criticism of the billionaire front-runner ahead of the Super Tuesday contests.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump retweeted critical posts from two aides, both seeking to spread a video that first shows Haley in 2012 dismissing as a “distraction” calls for then-GOP hopeful Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, before cutting to a more recent rally when she demanded Trump do just that.

“The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” Trump tweeted to cap it off, though not before deleting a first attempt that misspelled her name.

In January, Haley used a portion of her official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to needle Trump.

“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” Haley said, never mentioning him by name. “We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.”