Nikki Haley has officially taken the gloves off in the battle for the GOP primary, attacking Ron DeSantis early this week and calling him a “mini-Trump – without the charm.”
No doubt she is trying to distinguish herself from the brash and bold style of the two current frontrunners.
Both Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, and Senator Tim Scott, also from the Palmetto state, seem to be capitalizing on their southern charm.
Both are positioning themselves to be true alternatives to the more incendiary style of the top two men rather than a watered-down version of each other.
Haley claims DeSantis is a mere “echo” of Trump and voters “deserve a choice.”
However, it doesn’t seem as if Haley is coming up with new criticisms of DeSantis, merely parroting those already lobbed by Trump.
Staying on Trump’s Good Side
One can’t help but think she may be cozying up to Trump for a shot at the vice president spot.
Yet Haley continues to deny such insinuations claiming, “I don’t play for second; I’ve never played for second. I’m doing this to win it. I’m doing this to go and save our country.”
She has also been much more reticent to call out Trump for his personal indiscretions. When asked if, as a conservative woman, she thought the Republican frontrunner being liable for sexual abuse undermined her party, Haley offered a very politically correct response:
“I have always said that anyone that feels like they have been sexually assaulted in any way should come forward and have their voice heard,” she remarked. “I also think anyone that’s been accused should be able to defend themselves.”
“I was not on the jury. I am not the judge,” she continued. “I think that both of them had their voices heard. There has been a verdict, and there’s been an appeal.”
While it wasn’t a blanket approval, it wasn’t an overt rebuke of Trump’s behavior either.
Haley vs. DeSantis
Haley has been more forceful in her condemnation of DeSantis.
During the Disney debacle, the former governor from South Carolina invited the mouse to move houses. In a tweet in April, she declared: “We’ve got great weather, great people, and it’s always a great day in South Carolina! SC’s not woke, but we’re not sanctimonious about it either,” clearly capitalizing on Trump’s now famous, if not ridiculous, nickname for the Florida governor.
Of course, the liberal media had a field day with that one.
In what seemed to be a bit of a taunt, Haley acknowledged DeSantis’s candidacy via an interview in The Hill.
“Welcome to the race. We’ve been waiting.”
She continued with “I’m glad that he’s going to be out there, because I want the American people to see who they’re choosing from.”
Well, Nikki, you’ve kind of already said it yourself. Voters are really choosing between Trump and, as you said, “Trump minus the charm.”
Although she’d disagree, I’d say, “Trump minus the drama” would be more accurate.
And that’s exactly what a lot of people want.
While she may not have intended it, Haley gave DeSantis a backhanded compliment.
Opponents like Haley continue to criticize DeSantis for his “inability to interact directly with voters.”
However, it seems DeSantis does just fine in the company of conservatives. I attended his stop at the Ronald Reagan Library for his book “Courage to Be Free” and while he wasn’t particularly vigorous, he was likable enough.
Then again, when it comes to politics, I don’t like to be coaxed or pandered to. I’ll take calculated and collected over chaotic and extravagant in a president any day of the week, and twice on Saturday.
DeSantis outlined his policies that kept Florida free during COVID and gave a blueprint for “America’s revival.”
That is exactly what this country needs. A plan for how to get this country out of the hole Joe Biden and his administration has dug, and a team that can execute it.
Nikki Haley Opposes Both Men on Ukraine
While once unable to answer what substantial policy differences she offers as compared to Trump or DeSantis, Haley diverges drastically from both men in her stance on the war in Ukraine.
She insists the U.S. should continue its aid to Ukraine calling the conflict a “war on freedom” and “a war we have to win.” This led many, particularly Trump supporters, to label her a “neocon,” caught up in the frenzy of the 80s Cold War politics.
Meanwhile, both Floridians have questioned unlimited aid to Ukraine.
DeSantis said in March that Ukraine was not a key interest for the U.S., criticizing the “open-ended blank check” the Biden administration has written for Zelensky.
Trump is seen as more of an outright supporter of Putin.
As they say, all is fair in love and war … and politics. Now that DeSantis is almost officially in, let the mud-slinging, backstabbing, and downright nastiness begin.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.