Looks Like Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis Are Feuding

DeSantis is attacking Haley as she catches up to him in the polls. She says he's desperate and spiraling out. It's fun but they may just be helping Trump!

Looks Like Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis Are Feuding
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continues to crater in polls for the GOP nomination and it seems his strategy is to attack the person who’s catching up to him: Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R). But that plan isn’t going so well, as Haley absolutely bodied him this weekend.

DeSantis has tried to seize on the Israel-Hamas war as an opportunity to attack Haley. He falsely claimed in multiple interviews last week that Haley supported the U.S. taking in refugees from Gaza. Haley, a former U.N. Ambassador under Donald Trump, actually said that the U.S. should distinguish terrorists from Palestinians who oppose Hamas, and be empathetic to the civilians.

But the pro-DeSantis PAC Never Back Down is running ads with the lie in Iowa—the first attack ad of the primary. Haley’s campaign responded with a video calling DeSantis desperate that includes a supercut of cable news coverage of his bad polling, including Haley passing him in New Hampshire, a critical early state.

Then in Iowa on Saturday, a voter asked Haley to explain her stance on refugees from the Middle East, and her response was even more devastating. “God bless Ron DeSantis, because he continues to try and bring up this refugee situation. He has said that I want to take Gazan refugees; I have never said that,” Haley said. “He can keep doing it, but that’s what happens when a campaign starts to spiral out.” It brings me no pleasure to report that Haley, a terrible person, is correct here.

DeSantis’s polling has cratered from an average of 30% at the end of March to just under 13% now. And in the past month, Haley’s jumped into third place and is gaining on him. An Emerson Poll released Friday has them tied at 8% each—that’s a decrease of four points for DeSantis since last month and an increase of five for Haley. A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll out today shows a similar neck-and-neck situation: Haley clocked 11%, with DeSantis at 12%. Compared to a June survey from that pollster, she’s up seven points and he is down by 11. Haley also has more money in the bank for the primary than DeSantis does—$9.1 million compared to his $5 million, plus he has $1 million in debt.

Of course, they’re still both way, way behind Trump, who earned 59% and 58% in the polls, respectively. And Haley and DeSantis attacking each other may just benefit Trump in the long run, similar to how the 2016 primary went.

Tensions between the two campaigns have apparently been simmering for a while as they’ve tried to get Republican megadonors to choose one non-Trump candidate. Haley’s advisers told donors at a recent meeting in Dallas that the primary is “a two-person race between one man and one woman.” (That donor meeting was held at a property owned by Harlan Crow, the benefactor of Justice Clarence Thomas.) On Friday, DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo insisted that this is still “a two-man race for the nomination.”

So, uh, expect things to stay ugly online, and probably in the next presidential debate on November 8.

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