DeSantis and Haley sling insults amid their second-place race at Iowa debate

Photo Courtesy of Mike Segar | Reuters

By Rian Nelson, WEBN

Markedly, the two areas they agreed on were that Trump is no longer the best option and Biden is an even worse one. They both agreed that Trump should have been at the debate, Haley saying, “I wish Donald Trump was up here on this stage. He’s the one that I’m running against.”

DeSantis charged Trump with not holding up to his campaign promises stating, “[Trump] said he was going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. He did not deliver that. He said he was going to drain the swamp. He did not deliver that. He said he was going to hold Hillary accountable and he let her off the hook. He said he was going to eliminate the debt and he added $7.8 trillion to the debt.” Both candidates also attacked the Biden administration’s policies on everything from immigration to government spending and scope. 


Southern border crossings reached 2.5 million people in 2023, and both campaigns have made heavy immigration reform a central running point. Both candidates call for an end to illegal immigration, though through different means. DeSantis focused on finishing Trump’s promise of a wall stating, “If the wall’s there, it’s a physical fact of life. And it’s a huge step to restoring this country’s sovereignty.” His approach to breaking the tide also includes cutting benefits from all illegally crossing. 

Haley fielded comments from DeSantis calling her weak on immigration saying, “You have to do more than build a wall. It was having the wall and everything else.” Haley proposed nationalizing E-Verify where businesses, have to report the citizenship status of their workers, changing from a “catch-and-release” system to a “catch-and-deport” one, and defunding sanctuary cities around the U.S.

Foreign Policy

Haley held firm that helping Ukraine is essential to the U.S. claiming, “ If Russia wins, China wins.” Haley stated that Ukraine ultimately will prevent Russian expansion efforts and future conflict in Eastern Europe. However, she stipulated that cash should never just be handed out and the government must be able to track and account for any aid the U.S. sends.  DeSantis on the other hand finds the bigger international threat to be China. Although he called to fix issues at home before fixing issues abroad attacking Healy’s globalist policies by stating, “You can take the ambassador out of the United Nations, but you can’t take the United Nations out of the ambassador.” 

The same sentiments were held concerning the conflict in Israel. DeSantis while supporting the Israeli government wants the U.S. to support from afar. Haley called Israel,  “the tip of the spear when it comes to defeating terrorism.” Haley also attacked DeSantis’s relationship with Kentucky Representative Tom Massey who was the only representative to vote against a resolution to condemn anti-semitism and affirm Israel’s right to exist.  


Discussion of abortion mainly focused on Trump. DeSantis cited Trump’s wishy-washy record on abortion and his comments that Florida’s six-week abortion ban was a “terrible mistake.” DeSantis was asked to address his attacks on Haley around abortion including comments that she “indulged in left-wing tropes and chastised pro-lifers.” He refrained instead saying it’s a complex situation and switching gears to again talk about Trump. 

“Every candidate needs to earn your vote. Nobody’s entitled to your vote. And [Trump] comes in here every now and then; he does his schpiel, and then he leaves,” said DeSantis. Haley also took a question centered on Trump and abortion saying, “You’d have to ask him. That’s why he should be on the debate stage. Don’t ask me what President Trump thinks.”