Haley grilled by debate opponents, social media over record on trans issues: ‘Will cave to big donors’

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. 

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley gesture as they speak during the fourth Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on December 6, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Vivek Ramaswamy, who accused Haley of playing “identity politics”, criticized Haley for meeting with BlackRock’s Larry Fink, a proponent of ESG.

“One of Nikki Haley’s largest supporters, Larry Fink, the king of the woke industrial complex, the ESG movement, the CEO of BlackRock, the most powerful company in the world, now supporting Nikki Haley,” Ramaswamy said, adding that her campaign launch video “sounded like a woke Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light ad talking about how she would kick in heels at the first debate.”

I took $2 billion away from BlackRock,” DeSantis said. “We took action. This ESG, they call it environment, Social governance. And again, Nikki is meeting with all these people. They want to use economic power to impose a left wing agenda on this country.”

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Fourth Republican presidential debate

Former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the fourth Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on December 6, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Haley has previously criticized “stakeholder capitalism” writing in a 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed that it “retains the word capitalism but abandons its meaning.”

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.”

RAMASWAMY SPARKS SOCIAL MEDIA FIRESTORM OVER ‘NIKKI = CORRUPT’ SIGN AT GOP DEBATE

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to members of the media

CHARITON, IA-JULY 27: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to members of the media after an event on Thursday, July 27, 2023 in Chariton, Iowa. Flordia Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis visited several communities in central Iowa Thursday. DeSantis has been slowly dropping in the polls as the gap between and former President Trump widens.  ((Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images))

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. 

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“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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