Florida Gov. Ron DeSanntis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley took jabs at each other at different points during their primary debate in Iowa on Wednesday night. With the state’s caucuses just a few days away, the two argued over different positions they hold on different issues.
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At some points during the CNN-hosted debate, DeSantis and Haley accused each other of lying and switching policies.
“You’re going to see the fact that [DeSantis has] switched his policies multiple times. But every time he lies, Drake University, don’t turn this into a drinking game because you will be overserved by the end of the night,” Haley said of DeSantis, who also had a similar theory about Haley.
“Nikki Haley has this tactic — if you hold her accountable to her record, first she’ll say ‘I never said that,’” he stated. “Well, one good rule of thumb, if she says she never said something, that definitely means she said it. And then she’ll say ‘you’re lying, you’re lying.’ That means not only did she say it, but she’s on videotape saying it.”
Later, when trying to make a position that he is a better option than Haley, DeSantis asserted that Haley “may even be more liberal than Gavin Newsom is,” drawing a parallel between his attitude towards Newsom and how the former U.N. ambassador would treat him.
The Florida governor went further to state Haley has not tried to ever stand in and fight for conservative values. Hence, he warned voters against her, saying that she is not reliable.
In his words, “As Republicans, you need somebody that is going to be in there and fight for you, and Nikki Haley, anytime the going gets tough, anytime people come down, she caves. When you need someone standing and fight[ing] for you, don’t look for Nikki Haley. You won’t be able to find her if you had a search warrant.”
DeSantis also warned against trusting Haley’s position on immigration even though she promised to secure the border and deport illegal immigrants.
In his words, “That’s like having the fox guard the hen house. She is on tape at the Aspen Institute. She’ll say she didn’t say it. She was chastising conservatives, saying it’s disrespectful to illegal aliens to say that they’re criminals.”
For the governor, Haley is just leading voters on by telling them what they want to hear just to get into office to do the bidding of her donors, an argument Haley dismissed as envy.
Haley had her pound of flesh by slamming DeSantis for his spending since he launched his campaign. She pointed out how he has “blown” $150 million on his campaign without anything to show for it.
Also touching up on his priorities, Haley also claimed that her rival’s Iowa campaign was not funded as much as his lifestyle, as she said he has spent more on private planes than on commercials.
“If you can’t manage a campaign, how are you going to manage a country?” she asked.
The two debating candidates, however, came to an agreement when it comes to former President Donald Trump’s absence at the debate. While the GOP front runner spent the same time at a town hall event moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, both DeSantis and Haley wished he could have shown up at the debate.