ALTOONA, Iowa — Nikki Haley criticized Republican presidential rival Ron DeSantis in Iowa on Sunday for campaigning in the state with Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, the lone House Republican who voted last week against a GOP resolution condemning antisemitism on university campuses.
According to Haley, DeSantis' decision to bring Massie to Iowa contradicts his purported support for Israel. "You can't be pro-Israel and bring the most anti-Israel Republican into this state, who voted against fighting antisemitism on college campuses," Haley stated. "And that's who he brought to your state."
Haley's criticism of DeSantis came at the conclusion of a campaign event at a suburban Des Moines bar and grill. This marks the growing pressure on both candidates to establish themselves as the stronger alternative to former President Donald Trump coming out of Iowa.
Trump is currently the frontrunner to win Iowa's leadoff caucuses on Jan. 15. Last week, during a campaign event in eastern Iowa, Trump emphasized the importance of a resounding victory in the state to rally the party early in the 2024 voting season. "The margin of victory is very important, it's just very important," Trump emphasized to his audience in Coralville.
DeSantis and Haley have been engaging in increasingly public sparring, both during debates and through advertisements produced by supportive groups. With less than a month remaining until the caucuses, these efforts aim to hinder each other's momentum in Iowa.
DeSantis and Massie Campaign for Gun Rights in Iowa
DeSantis and Massie recently joined forces in an Iowa town hall event, focusing on their shared commitment to protecting gun rights.
Massie, known for his strong stance on free speech, has been critical of legislation that he feels restricts individuals' ability to express their opinions. This includes his decision to vote against GOP-sponsored resolutions that were introduced in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Support for Israel is a top priority among Republicans, particularly evangelical Christians who have a significant presence in the Iowa GOP. Many within this group view Jews as God's chosen people and believe that Israel is their rightful homeland.
DeSantis, recognizing the importance of supporting Israel, has emphasized his efforts to deliver medical supplies and evacuate Americans from the country during the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack, which was led by Hamas. DeSantis has been vocal in calling for the destruction of Hamas.
Critics of DeSantis and Massie campaigning together have been dismissed by DeSantis' campaign team. They argue that DeSantis has consistently demonstrated his support for Israel and his commitment to eliminating Hamas.
Notably, former ambassador Nikki Haley has also voiced her support for Israel in the face of the Oct. 7 attack, advocating for stronger action against Hamas.