Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has criticized former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for declining a proposed one-on-one debate with him on Fox News.
Nikki Haley doesn’t want to debate because she’s taken very Establishment-oriented positions.
She wants to force everybody to give their names on social media, proposed no limits on immigration, and took the side of Disney against us protecting our kids.
Haley is fundamentally… pic.twitter.com/s9oYWMQiNj
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) November 28, 2023
“Well, she probably wouldn’t like what the debate would be about. I mean, I think she has taken very, very establishment-oriented positions,” DeSantis said on Fox News Show “The Ingraham Angle,” later adding, “I’ll debate any of these folks. I think that’s what it is all about.”
On the November 15 episode of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, the host proposed a debate between DeSantis and Haley volunteering her show as the platform for that debate.
In response to the challenge, DeSantis quickly indicated his desire to debate Haley one-on-one on the national stage.
A one-on-one debate between two candidates vying for second place in the GOP primary seems anti-climactic. After all, at least according to polls, Donald Trump has enjoyed an ever-increasing lead in the battle to be the next Republican presidential nominee.
On the other hand, there is a chance that if either DeSantis or Haley distances themselves from the rest of the GOP pack, they will garner enough Republican support to compete with Trump.
Other than the fact that Haley has shown no interest in debating DeSantis, both candidates also signed a loyalty pledge with the Republican National Committee that precludes any candidate from participating in an unsanctioned debate.
The Hill reported that the loyalty pledge states that if any candidate “participates in any debate that has not been sanctioned by the RNC, they will not be eligible to participate in any further Republican National Committee sanctioned debates.”
DeSantis’ taunts against Haley come as his campaign continues to struggle. As The Messenger reported, “DeSantis has seen his polling numbers plummet, dropping from within a few points of Trump in some polls in early 2023 to 40 points behind him at present.” In some polls Trump’s lead is even more than 40 points.
Haley, on the other hand, has seen her stock rise after a few successful debates put her in the national spotlight. A recent Fox News article also reports that the deep-pocketed conservative network “Americans for Prosperity Action,” founded by the Koch brothers, recently endorsed Haley.
It seems unlikely that either candidate will supplant Trump for the nomination, but if the trajectory holds, it is Haley rather than DeSantis who has the best chance no matter how much DeSantis wants to debate her.