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DeSantis ad blasts Nikki Haley's views on trans issues, China, free speech

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks about abortion at the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, April 25, 2023.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks about abortion at the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, April 25, 2023. | The Christian Post/Nicole Alcindor

A new political ad slams Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley for her stances on trans issues, China and free speech as the former South Carolina governor spars with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other candidates seeking to establish themselves as the best alternative to former President Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primaries. 

The DeSantis War Room, which describes itself as “Rapid Response for Governor Ron DeSantis,” released an ad titled “Meet the Real Nikki Haley” on Nov. 17. The three-minute video comes less than two months before the Iowa Caucuses, where Haley and DeSantis are among several Republican candidates looking to score an upset victory over Trump in the first presidential nominating contest ahead of the 2024 presidential election. 

The ad begins with an on-screen message reading: “Nikki Haley is not a conservative.” It features a clip of the candidate declaring, “The reason I got into politics was because of Hillary Clinton,” and another clip where she recalled attending a conference where Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president and a figure loathed by many Republicans, was a speaker. “I walked out of there, and I said, 'I’m running for office,'” Haley said, referring to the conference that Clinton spoke at. 

The ad also highlights concerns about Haley’s apparent support for cracking down on anonymous accounts on social media, unlimited immigration into the United States based on the wishes of business leaders and allowing a Chinese Communist Party-connected company to open a manufacturing facility in South Carolina when she was governor. The ad then transitions into talking about her stances on trans issues. One clip shows Haley's appearance on Fox News to discuss how “when I was governor, [the Legislature] wanted to bring in a bathroom bill, a transgender bathroom bill," which she opposed. 

“I strong-armed and said, ‘We are not going to have that in South Carolina,’” she asserted. State laws barring students from entering opposite-sex bathrooms, locker rooms and showers in K-12 schools have become law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Supporters of such measures point to safety and privacy concerns for female students who'd be forced to share intimate spaces with male students under policies that allow trans-identified individuals to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their self-declared gender identity rather than their biological sex as the reason for enacting “bathroom bills.” 

The issue received particular attention when news broke of the sexual assault of a female student in a girls’ bathroom at a Loudoun County, Virginia, high school at the hands of a biologically male student who identified as “gender-fluid.” 

The political ad shows additional footage of Haley telling CBS News, “I think the law should stay out of it” when asked, “What care should be on the table when a 12-year-old child in this country assigned female at birth says, ‘Actually, I feel more comfortable living as a boy.’ And “what should the law allow the response to be?”

The use of the word “care” refers to puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones and body-mutilating surgeries, including castration and unnecessary mastectomies. 

The American College of Pediatricians has identified potential side effects of puberty blockers as “osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, cognitive impairment and, when combined with cross-sex hormones, sterility.” Meanwhile, the organization of “pediatricians and other healthcare professionals” warned that cross-sex hormones put trans-identified youth at “an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers across their lifespan.” 

Earlier this year, DeSantis’ office released images of mutilated bodies showing scars left behind after skin and tissue are removed from girls’ forearms to create a fake, flaccid penis and the scars left behind following the removal of healthy breasts from trans-identified females.

Several states have taken action to prohibit some or all gender transition procedures due to concerns about their long-term effects: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Haley’s remarks in the video suggest she doesn't support such laws. 

The release of the “Meet the Real Nikki Haley” ad comes as DeSantis and Haley are increasingly viewed as the two candidates most likely to emerge as the alternative with the best chance of defeating Trump in the Republican primary.  The RealClearPolitics average of polls measuring Republican primary voters’ intentions shows both DeSantis and Haley far behind Trump, who remains the frontrunner. 

The average of polls taken between Nov. 9 and Nov. 20 shows Trump with 61.6% support, followed by DeSantis at 13.7% and Haley at 9.8%. All other candidates have less than 5% support. 

The RealClearPolitics average of polls taken in Iowa from Oct. 22-Nov. 15 shows a closer race although Trump is still in the lead. According to the polling average, Trump has 47% support in Iowa, followed by DeSantis at 17.3% and Haley at 14.3%. On the other hand, the RealClearPolitics average of polls taken in New Hampshire, the second state to hold a presidential nominating contest and the first state to hold a presidential primary, shows Haley as the second-place candidate.

Based on an average of polls taken between Nov. 9 and 14, 45.7% of New Hampshire Republican primary voters plan to support Trump, while 18.7% favor Haley and 11.3% prefer former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. DeSantis is in fourth place at 7.7%. 

In addition to producing the “Meet the Real Nikki Haley ad,” the DeSantis campaign has launched a website titled therealnikki.com asserting that “Nikki Haley isn’t the conservative she says she is” and “is supportive of every liberal cause under the sun.” 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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