Photo of Nikki Haley

Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Check: DeSantis Attacks Deemed "False"

October 18, 2023

By: Elias Atienza
Online here

Never Back Down, the Super PAC supporting Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, claimed in an Oct. 16 X post that former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. should take in refugees from Gaza.

Verdict: False

Haley was talking about DeSantis's remarks about Palestinians being anti-Semitic, not about accepting refugees from Gaza.

Fact Check:

DeSantis called for the U.S. to reject refugees from Gaza as Israel continues to bomb the Gaza Strip as it prepares for its ground invasion to root out the terrorist organization Hamas, according to The Associated Press. One of the reasons why DeSantis called for the rejection of refugees is because he said Gaza residents are anti-Semitic, the outlet reported.

Never Back Down claimed that "Nikki Haley argues in support of bringing Gaza refugees to America."

However, Never Back Down's claim is false. Check Your Fact reviewed Haley's interview with CNN host Jake Tapper and the transcript and did not find any instances of Haley calling for the U.S. to take in refugees from Gaza. The entire interaction between Tapper and Haley was about DeSantis's remarks that all 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza were anti-Semitic, not whether the U.S. should accept refugees from Gaza.

From the transcript (emphasis added by Check Your Fact):

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to this statement that Governor Ron DeSantis made about all — I guess he's talking about all of the 2.3 million Palestinians.

He said this on the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic. None of them believe in Israel's right to exist.


TAPPER: Now, just for our viewers' edification, according to recent polling earlier this year from The Washington Institute, which is a pro-Israel group, using the polling of a Palestinian center for public opinion, 62 percent of Gazans wanted the cease-fire with Israel to stay in place.

Fifty percent of Gazans want Hamas to stop calling for Israel's destruction, want Hamas to accept the permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders; 70 percent of Gazans wanted the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank to take over Gaza.

So I'm not really certain that Governor DeSantis has a real read on the difference between Hamas and the people of Gaza. What was your response when you heard what Governor DeSantis said?

HALEY: I dealt with this every day for two years.

And what I can tell you is, you have to realize that, whether we're talking about Gazans and Palestinians, all of them don't — you have got half of them at the time that I was there didn't want to be under Hamas' rule. They didn't want to have terrorists overseeing them.

They knew that they were living a terrible life because of Hamas. You had the other half that supported Hamas and wanted to be a part of that. We see that with Iran too. The Iranian people don't want to be under that Iranian regime. They don't. We saw what happened to Mahsa Amini. We saw how they treat them.

There are so many of these people who want to be free from this terrorist rule. They want to be free from all of that. And America's always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists. And that's what we have to do.

The entire context shows that Haley was not talking about accepting refugees from Gaza but responding to DeSantis's claim that the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are anti-Semitic because they allegedly don't believe in Israel's right to exist.

Haley also said earlier in the interview:

"That's who we're dealing with. But I dealt with this at the United Nations. You're going to hear all of those Arab countries vilify Israel for what's about to happen. You're going to hear all of them say, how dare you not do more for the Palestinian people?

And you know what? We should care about the Palestinian citizens, especially the innocent ones, because they didn't ask for this. But where are the Arab countries? Where are they? Where is Qatar? Where is Lebanon? Where is Jordan? Where is Egypt? Do you know we give Egypt over a billion dollars a year? Why aren't they opening the gates? Why aren't they taking the Palestinians?

You know why? Because they know they can't vet them, and they don't want Hamas in their neighborhood. So why would Israel want them in their neighborhood? So let's be honest with what's going on. The Arab countries aren't doing anything to help the Palestinians because they don't trust who is right, who is good, who is evil, and they don't want it in their country."

The full interview can be watched here

A Haley campaign spokesperson told Check Your Fact that "Nikki Haley opposes the U.S. taking in Gazans. She thinks Hamas-supporting countries like Iran, Qatar, and Turkey should take any refugees." The spokesperson also pointed to Haley opposing Syrian refugees being resettled in the U.S. when she was ambassador, her 2015 letter asking the Obama administration not to resettle Syrian refugees in South Carolina and her opposition to Guantanamo Bay prisoners being transported to South Carolina.

Guy Benson, a conservative commentator, deleted a tweet from his radio show in which it characterized Haley's remarks as proposing to accept refugees from Gaza.

"A note from me: My radio show account has deleted a tweet stating that Nikki Haley 'proposed' settling Gazan refugees in the US, which was not a fair characterization. This interpretation was based on a CNN interview in which she was asked about recent comments by Ron DeSantis — who adamantly opposes that idea...Haley's team says that in context, she was responding to *this* element of the story/controversy i.e. arguing that we shouldn't lump all Gazans into the anti-Semitic/terrorist bucket in terms of our rhetoric and thinking about the wider conflict — *not* that the US should vet would-be refugees under that rubric or bring any to the US," Benson partially tweeted.

Zach Kessel, a reporter at National Review, said on X that Haley has never "proposed taking the refugees into the U.S."

".@RonDeSantis's accusation is based on an interview @NikkiHaley did with Jake Tapper in which she disagreed with the Florida governor's argument that Gazan civilians and Hamas can be lumped together. Never has she proposed taking the refugees into the U.S.," Kessel posted.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Check: DeSantis Attacks Deemed "False" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives