Washington: Donald Trump has hit back at Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for being "very weak" on immigration, a day after she took a jab at the Republican presidential front-runner over the issue.
Trump also taking a swipe at her for asking campaign contributions from him.
"I'm very strong on illegal immigration. She's weak on illegal immigration. I mean, she's very, very weak on it and it's a problem. She's big on amnesty but very weak on illegal immigration. And so therefore we have a disagreement," Trump told the MSNBC news.
He was responding to questions on remarks by Haley Tuesday night in the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in which she was critical of the immigration policies of Trump.
In her impressive nine-minute speech that launched her into national politics, Haley criticised Obama's policies but also tried to jab her party's White House front-runner Trump by urging Americans to resist "the siren call of the angriest voices" on immigration.
Haley, however, later urged Trump not to take her criticism personally.
Trump said, "I mean, she comes up to my office when she wants campaign contributions and I've given her tremendous contributions over the years. But I guess now that I'm running (for President), she doesn't like me quite as much. She liked me better when I was a giver of contributions than she does when I'm not," Trump said, adding that he is leading in Haley's state of South Carolina.
"I don't know her attitude. I haven't spoken to her in quite a while. But she's a very nice woman, a very good woman. But I disagree with her politically and obviously she disagrees with me politically on immigration," Trump said.
"I want people to come into the country, but I want them to come in legally, and that's a very big distinction. And she's just very weak on the subject. And that's something that doesn't play very well with me," the New York-based real estate tycoon said.
"I'm only doing this to make America great again. We're a
country that is doing poorly. You can't believe what you heard last night because the fact is our economy is terrible. One of the weakest weakest recovery on record, and by far the weakest recovery ever on record," Trump said.
"The median income for people is lower now than it was Barack Obama took office. You look at the African-Americans, they're doing worse than they've ever done, and we have an African-American president. They're doing worse than they've ever done. You see what's happening," he said in response to a question.
At a news conference in South Carolina, Haley acknowledged that she took campaign contribution from Trump and that they are good friends.
"I consider Mr Trump a friend. He was a supporter. He supported me in both campaigns," the two time Governor of South Carolina said.
"But just because you disagree with someone doesn't mean you're not a friend. That's the thing is, you shouldn't take these things personally. When I say it about my other friends that are running for president, they don't throw stones," she said.
"And so what I say to Mr Trump is, don't take it personally. This is just something that we learned in South Carolina that I'm passing it along. Take it if you want and don't take it if you don't. But I think our country will be better if we take it," Haley said.