Ambassador Nikki Haley faced sharp criticism at the final GOP primary debate off 2023 on Wednesday night as her surging campaign was slammed for what her opponents say is a record that is not conservative enough and weak on social issues like ESG, transgender policies, and free speech.
“Nikki Haley she caves any time the left comes after any time the media comes after her,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in the debate during an argument over transgender bathroom bills and how each of them approached the issue as governor.
“You killed it, I signed it, I stood up for little girls,” DeSantis said, accusing Haley of not doing enough to push bathroom bills as the two went back and forth on previous statements and positions.
Haley was also slammed by her opponents for not being conservative enough on ESG issues, meeting with supporters of ESG and taking money from Democrat donors.
DeSantis and Ramaswamy both promoted the idea that Haley taking money from liberal donors, including a liberal mega donor who gave her super PAC $250,000 this week, would make her beholden to those donors in the future.
“Nikki will cave to those big donors when it counts,” DeSantis said.
Haley was also criticized over her record on free speech related to her previous comments saying her administration crackdown on anonymous accounts online.
“It’s something that’s important, and especially given how conservatives have been attacked and they’ve lost jobs and they’ve been canceled,” DeSantis said, pointing out that the authors of the Federalist Papers used pseudonyms. “You know, the regime would use that to weaponize that against our own people.”
Ramaswamy piled on and said her position was “more dangerous than the Democrats.”
“You’re lying,” Haley shot back.
Haley also faced similar criticisms on social media during the debate related to her perceived coziness with liberal donors.
“What’s not fine is Nikki Haley caving on every issue that matters most to Republicans,” political strategist David Polyansky posted on X. “She has sold out parents, conservative principles and our party in order to side with her Democrat donors.”
Haley, whose campaign was the top search on Google on debate night, dismissed many of the criticisms from her opponents at one point remarking that they were “jealous” and they “wish they were supporting them.”
Haley addressed the criticism that she would be beholden to liberal donors and ESG supporters in one of her debate responses.
“As much as Ron says that it’s not true,” Haley said. “But when it comes to these corporate people that want to suddenly support us, we’ll take it. But I don’t ask them what they support. They ask me what my policies are and I tell them what it is. Sometimes they agree with me sometimes they don’t.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Haley spokesperson Ken Farnaso said the attacks on her in the debate were a sign of desperation.
“This is the sign of a desperate, losing candidate, and Ron DeSantis is both losing and desperate, “Farnaso said.
“Everyone knows Nikki was the conservative, outsider governor in South Carolina. She took on the establishment and Barack Obama—and won. She cracked down on illegal immigration, implemented E-Verify, opposed Wall Street bailouts, protected life, cut taxes, expanded Second Amendment rights, and signed the first anti-BDS bill in the country. The more Ron DeSantis loses, the more he lies.”
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