DeSantis and Haley Spar Over Gaza Refugees

[South Carolina Governor Nikki R. Haley, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is standing her ground in the Republican presidential primary. Over the weekend, she took on fellow candidate Ron DeSantis for lying about what she said about taking in refugees from Gaza. 

“You know first thing I’ll say is, 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. And he’s got an ad on TV, and I will tell you, from CNN to Newsmax, they have all said that his ad is a lie,” she said at a town hall Saturday at Central College in Pella, Iowa.  

The rivalry between the Florida governor and Haley has heated up over the past few weeks and both fight with each other to be the alternative to Donald Trump.

“Pro-DeSantis Super PAC Never Back Down published several ads directly hitting Haley this week over her remarks about Gaza refugees, changing up their previous strategy of only targeting former President Donald Trump and President Biden.

The super PAC’s ads emphasized Haley’s Oct. 15 comments about America being able to “separate civilians from terrorists” in claiming the former ambassador to the UN wants to allow in refugees from the Gaza Strip — the territory controlled by the terror group Hamas, which launched a war against Israel on Oct. 7,” wrote The New York Post.

One ad, titled ‘ZERO Gaza refugees,’ will air on TV and was funded by Never Back Down to the tune of about $1 million, a super PAC rep told the newspaper.

Haley’s campaign has punched back, claiming she never said Gaza refugees should come to the United States, launching an ad of her own that labels governor “Desperate DeSantis.” 

Haley’s campaign also launched an online ad Friday titled “Desperate DeSantis.”

The DeSantis PAC told The Post that the new ad does not mean DeSantis is taking his eye off of former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner. 

“DeSantis is the only candidate positioned to beat Trump in Iowa and beyond. We called out Nikki Haley when she sided with woke Disney back in April and we’re calling her out now because she’s wrong on refugees,” Never Back Down Communications Director Erin Perrine told The Post.

A former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, DeSantis has “sought to distinguish himself on foreign policy, pointing to restrictions he signed in Florida that banned land purchases by many Chinese nationals and calling for the use of military force against Mexican drug cartels. In the last week, he also has used state funds to charter flights that have brought home hundreds of Americans stranded in Israel,” according to The New York Times. 

Haley also has worked to burnish her foreign policy credentials, taking hawkish stances against China and standing tall against attacks on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas. The “paper of record” continued: “As Mr. Trump’s United Nations ambassador, Ms. Haley forcefully spoke out in support of his formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as well as his decision to cut American funding to Palestinian refugees.

The two have sparred on foreign policy before. She has criticized Mr. DeSantis for his support of Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and his hold on military nominations over a policy that covers the travel expenses of service members who seek reproductive health care services, including abortions, in other states. She also attacked Mr. DeSantis’s stance on the war in Ukraine, which he called a “territorial dispute” that was not central to U.S. interests — a characterization he later walked back.

In recent days, both have also turned their scorn on Mr. Trump for remarks that he made after the Hamas attack criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and referring to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as ‘very smart.’ Mr. Trump has since retreated from his comments. He, too, has pledged to reject refugees from Gaza.”

Polling has shown Trump with double-digit leads against both Haley and DeSantis, both nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire.  

[Read More: Senate Staffer Robbed at Gunpoint in Washington, D.C.]