DeSantis Challenges Haley’s Liberal Turn

In the heated run-up to the South Carolina Republican primary, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley faces significant challenges. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), after recently stepping back from his own 2024 presidential bid, has pointedly criticized Haley’s campaign strategy. Speaking on Fox News’ “One Nation with Brian Kilmeade” on Saturday, DeSantis pointed out one of the fundamental flaws in Haley’s approach — courting liberal voters who traditionally fall outside the Republican base.

DeSantis’s observations come from firsthand experiences at Iowa caucus sites, where he noted an unusual trend: “There were 7,000 Democrats who showed up and switched to Republican on the night of the caucus. These were very liberal Democrats,” he explained. This move, according to DeSantis, represents a core part of Haley’s strategy, aiming to appeal to a broader, yet arguably less Republican, demographic.

However, this tactic has not resonated well within the party’s core base. DeSantis argues that Haley’s focus on the 20% of “McCain, Romney Republicans” does little to unite the majority of the party’s conservative, populist voters. This division, he believes, only serves to “poison the well” among the party’s faithful.

The current political climate within the Republican Party appears to favor a return to more traditional, conservative America First values, embodied by President Donald Trump. The latest RealClearPolitics polling average of South Carolina data underscores this sentiment, showing Trump leading Haley by 31 percentage points among likely voters in her home state.

Despite the uphill battle, Haley remains steadfast in her campaign, asserting her conservative credentials. “I am a hardcore conservative. I always have been,” Haley stated, defending her record as a fiscal and social conservative. Yet, the looming South Carolina primary presents a crucial test of her appeal within the party, especially in a state she once governed.

DeSantis’s support for Trump, post his campaign suspension, marks a strategic move toward party unity and support for the former president’s 2024 campaign. His focus remains on consolidating the conservative base and preparing for the general election. DeSantis’s commitment to Trump’s candidacy has been unwavering since he immediately endorsed the 45th president after dropping out.

“Donald Trump is going to have almost 95% of the delegates whatever happens in those legal cases,” DeSantis affirmed.

The dynamics within the Republican Party suggest a return to its conservative roots, as championed by Trump, with little room for deviation. Haley’s approach, aiming to attract liberal voters, seems increasingly out of sync with the current mood among Republican primary voters. As the South Carolina primary approaches, the outcome there will serve as a critical indicator of the party’s direction and the real weight of America First conservatism in shaping its future.