I remember back in April when 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had yet to declare his intentions at the time, on his stance regarding Disney.
All I could think was “Why? Why?”
Pushing back hard on corporate wokeness should be a major defining issue for any Republican presidential campaign, especially one that wants to be successful. Yet Haley went full corporatist instead and made it about business and jobs and tax dollars and supposed “sanctimoniousness,” either ignoring or not understanding the fact that Disney took a lead role in trying to get a Florida law that was designed to protect children in public school classrooms from being taught sexually explicit lessons repealed or struck down.
Since then, Haley has doubled down, strangely insinuating that DeSantis is a “thin-skinned” hypocrite or something for taking campaign donations from Disney and then turning around and not playing nice when they went too far. This is something she again claimed during her CNN town hall Sunday, calling it “vendetta stuff.”
On Monday, DeSantis was asked about Haley’s remarks during an interview on Brian Kilmeade’s radio program, and he laid it all out on the line.
“How utterly bizarre. I mean, somebody does a campaign contribution you’re supposed to lay down for them? That’s not how I operate,” DeSantis stated. “People can support me or not support me. I call them as I see them. And if you’ve supported me, but you’re wrong, I’m going to do what’s right.”
DeSantis also pushed back on Haley’s claim that DeSantis was all about richly rewarding Disney until they crossed him, telling Kilmeade that Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District “has been there for decades” and “had their own government, had these massive subsidies,” which the DeSantis administration “unwound,” in DeSantis’ words.
DeSantis also pointed to the fact that while other Republicans had “sided with Disney” over him as well, that “at the end of the day as the parent of three young kids, we are going to fight the sexualization of minors and children.”
He also went on to say, “We are going to fight anybody that’s trying to rob them of their innocence. And we are not going to compromise, whether that’s standing up to a big 800-pound gorilla like Disney or anybody else. We’re going to stand with the children.”
And in a not-so-veiled swipe at Haley, DeSantis also ripped Republicans who acted as though the party needed to bow to the demands of corporate America.
“There’s also the other issue of, you know, as Republicans, you can’t just be a lackey for corporate America,” DeSantis suggested. “You’ve got to be willing to stand up for individual taxpayers, you’ve got to be willing to stand up for small business.”
“So the days of Republicans just deferring to large corporations, I think, need to be over,” DeSantis concluded.
DESANTIS on other Republicans siding with Disney:
“As a parent of three young kids – we are going to fight the sexualization of minors.”
“You can’t just be a lackey for corporate America … The days of Republicans just deferring to large corporations need to be OVER.” pic.twitter.com/nJMGQnT9BB
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 5, 2023
You know, I get that primary campaigns are about each candidate carving out a lane among people who presumably are for the most part like-minded on the important issues that matter to voters. I also get that the occasional jabs are going to be thrown and that such jabs will definitely become more frequent and punishing the closer we get to the actual primaries. I also have no issue with the contenders challenging each other’s positions when the occasion calls for it. It’s part of the process.
But there are certain issues and the way they need to be handled that I believe are non-negotiable, and this is one of them. Haley, who some have suggested is auditioning to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick in the event he wins the nomination, picked the wrong lane here, and as far as I’m concerned, she can’t be called out enough on it – especially by DeSantis, who probably more than anyone running or considering running understands from a leadership perspective not just how the woke left operates but also how to effectively fight back – and win resounding support from voters in the process.
Related: Daily Beast Makes ‘In-Kind Contribution’ to DeSantis With ‘Walmart Melania’ Attack on Casey DeSantis