Ron DeSantis launches new website attacking Nikki Haley

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign has launched a new website attacking former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for supporting “every liberal cause under the sun.”

The website includes a video attacking Haley’s record and listing myriad ways Haley has departed from conservative platforms to side with Democrats.

While each claim includes a citation, many are taken out of context or exaggerated. 

For example, the microsite claims Haley is “pro-Hillary Clinton.” It references an interview from 2012 in which Haley was asked why there “are so few women of you generation in high-level politics.”

The site includes one sentence from her response, noting that Clinton was the reason Haley ran for office. But it leaves out context from her answer describing how Clinton’s words inspired her to run, but not mentioning Clinton influencing her ideology or any support for Clinton’s brand of politics.

“It’s not because the challenge is too hard. It’s simply because women don’t run. The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton. Everybody was telling me why I shouldn’t run: I was too young, I had small children, I should start at the school board level. I went to Birmingham University, and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker on a leadership institute, and she said that when it comes to women running for office, there will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn’t but that’s all the reasons why we need you to do it, and I walked out of there thinking, ‘that’s it, I’m running for office,’” the quote reads in its entirety.

Similarly, the site claims Haley opposed a wall on the southern border, referencing a Washington Post column in which Haley is quoted as saying “don’t say you’re just going to build a wall, because a wall’s not going to do it.” It omits additional context from Haley’s comments in which she notes other needed tools, such as troops on the border, drones, planes and other detention and deportation capabilities.

The cite also claims Haley is “pro-men in women’s bathrooms,” citing two videos of Haley speaking in which she touts her insistence that South Carolina did not need a bathroom bill. In one, from an appearance on Fox News, Haley discusses how schools work with transgender students to ensure they have access to a private bathroom so they “are not made fun of” and “don’t feel uncomfortable. In the other, a speech at an unnamed event, Haley said the bathroom bill was unnecessary and said South Carolina was a state where “we don’t have to mandate respect and kindness.”

The site also says Haley is “pro-child mutilation,” a reference to gender reassignment surgeries for minors. It cites an interview on CBS in which Haley is asked what the law should allow for an adolescent child assigned female at birth who “feels more comfortable living as a boy.” Haley responded that “the law should stay out of it and the parents should handle it.”

The website includes a host of other claims, including that Haley is pro-China, pro-Gaza, anti-free speech, pro-tax hikes, pro-Black Lives Matter rioters and pro-corporate welfare. Again, all include citations, but most leave out a context for Haley’s remarks, a common tactic among campaigns at any level, but particularly in heated presidential contests when candidates are trying to differentiate themselves. 

The video starts with an old-school-looking computer display with text claiming that “Nikki Haley is not a conservative.” It then shows video footage of her referencing the Clinton story and saying the former Secretary of State, a Democrat who lost to former President Donald Trump in 2016, is the reason she got into politics. It then pivots to another clip expanding on that as the reason she decided to run for office.

The video, which is almost three minutes long, then pivots to immigration, with footage of Haley discussing how immigration “quotas,” or a number of how many immigrants can be legally accepted into the U.S. each year, are not the right way to address the issue, and instead suggesting that number should be driven by industry needs. It also includes a clip of Haley saying, “We need as many immigrants as we can.”

The video also addresses Haley’s track record on China, claiming she is weak on the issue. That includes a topic that has come up in GOP debates, that Haley not only accepted but touted a Chinese company opening in her state.

It also includes the bathroom bill comments made during her presidential campaign, which are seen by some on the right as overly friendly to Gaza.

As the video winds down, it pivots to several comments Haley has made about social media, in which she said she would move to ensure every person on social media is verified with their name.

It also includes footage of her supporting increasing gas tax; and of former Fox News host Tucker Carlson claiming Haley was pro-Black Lives Matter because she said “the death of George Floyd was personal and painful for many” and that “in order to heal, it needs to be personal and painful for everyone.”

In a press release announcing the new website, the DeSantis campaign wrote that “Republican voters deserve to know the truth about Haley and her liberal record, which looks more akin to someone competing for the Democrat nomination.”

Nationally, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average of national polls, DeSantis is still leading Haley, with about 14% support to her less than 10% — Trump is far ahead with more than 59% support. But in some states, including New Hampshire and Ohio, Haley has overtaken Florida’s Governor for the No. 2 spot. 

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