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Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Checkers Confirm: DeSantis Lied

December 08, 2023

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Desperate Ron DeSantis has spun a web of lies—and the fact checkers agree. Here are the facts:

Fact #1: Nikki Haley has never supported allowing minors to receive gender-changing surgeries.

Fact #2: Ron DeSantis said in 2018 that getting involved in the "bathroom wars" wasn't "a good use of our time."

Fact #3: Nikki Haley did not bring Confucius Institutes to South Carolina.

Post and Courier: Fact-checking the many attacks on Nikki Haley at the fourth GOP debate

By: Alexander Thompson
Online here

It was a tussle in Tuscaloosa.

The feisty fourth and final GOP presidential primary debate of the year at the University of Alabama featured plenty of attacks on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as she continues to cement her runner-up status over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

From the very first question, DeSantis and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy started lobbing attacks at Haley, who almost always fought back with digs of her own.

Some of it was true, some of it — less so.

Transgender issues

DeSantis' first attack on Haley came in her first answer of the night.

"She caves any time the left comes after her, any time the media comes after her. I did a bill in Florida to stop the gender mutilation of minors. It's child abuse and it's wrong. She opposes that bill," he said. "She thinks it's fine and the law shouldn't get involved with it."

That's false. Haley opposes gender transition surgeries for minors.

"You shouldn't allow a child to have a gender-changing procedure until the age of 18 when they are an adult and they can make that decision," she said in a May ABC interview.

At the debate, Haley clarified that this is what she had said.

In a June CBS interview, she did say "the law should stay out of it" in reference to a question that asked generally about children who are questioning their gender identity. She almost immediately restated her position that once a child turns 18, "if they want to make more of a permanent change, they can do that."

Despite much attention on the issue from conservatives, gender transition surgeries are rarely performed on minors nationally and are not provided by South Carolina hospitals.

Bathroom bills

Another of DeSantis' attacks was on Haley's opposition to a bill a South Carolina state senator proposed in 2016 that would have required people to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth in public schools and government buildings.

"They had a bill that tried to say men shouldn't go into girl's bathrooms, and she killed that bill, and she bragged that she killed that bill," DeSantis said.

That's misleading. Haley said the bill wasn't "necessary" but did not "kill" it.

Then-state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, proposed the bill in April 2016 in the months following the passage of North Carolina's bathroom bill, which led to corporations boycotting the state and eventually played a role in that state's Republican governor's defeat later that year.

Haley opposed Bright's bill.

"While other states are having this battle, this is not a battle that we have seen is needed in South Carolina," Haley said, according to The Post and Courier's previous reporting. "And it's not something that we see the citizens are asking for in South Carolina."

Haley echoed those comments in Tuscaloosa.

"We had maybe a handful of kids who were dealing with an issue, and I said that we don't need to bring government into this," she said at the debate.

Haley didn't kill the bill. Bright filed it late in the session, and it died in a Senate committee far from ever reaching Haley's desk.

But Haley claimed credit for sidelining the bill in a 2022 interview at The Ronald Reagan Foundation & Institute.

"I remember a state senator in South Carolina filed a bill, and I strong-armed him, and I said 'we are not having that in South Carolina,'" she said, going on to add that she supported transgender students using a private restroom in schools.

In the debate Haley also counterattacked, saying that DeSantis said a bathroom bill "wasn't a good use of time" during his initial run for governor in 2018. That's true, he said that at a Florida Family Policy Council Event, though DeSantis did sign a bathroom bill earlier this year.

Confucius Institutes

Haley and DeSantis traded some well-worn barbs on China, but DeSantis pulled out a new one at the Dec. 6 debate.

"Nikki Haley brought Confucius Institutes to the universities in South Carolina," DeSantis said.

"That is not true," Haley protested.

Haley's correct.

Confucius Institutes were organizations operated and paid for by the Chinese government on college campuses to teach Mandarin and Chinese culture. About five years ago, concerns were raised that the institutes were spreading Chinese propaganda, and nearly all have since shut down.

The University of South Carolina had a Confucius Institute, which launched in 2008 before Haley was governor, according to The State. It attracted little notice until after Haley left the governor's office and has since shuttered.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect which South Carolina public colleges hosted Confucius Institutes. The Citadel's Mandarin initiatives launched in 2008 were funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, not the Chinese government.

Tampa Bay Times: Fact-checking DeSantis and Haley's attacks on each other over bathroom bills

By: Grace Abels
Online here

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brought up bathroom access as one of many attacks on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the fourth Republican presidential primary debate.

"They had a bill to try to say that men shouldn't go into girls' bathrooms, and she killed that bill," DeSantis said.

DeSantis has a point that the bill died and Haley had criticized it. But Haley — who said DeSantis criticized bathroom bills before he became governor — also has a point.

As governor, Haley said in 2016 that she didn't believe it was "necessary" to pass a Senate bill that would have required people to use the bathroom that aligned with their sex assigned at birth. At the time, a similar law in North Carolina, HB 2, had sparked backlash and caused several businesses and artists to boycott the state.

The South Carolina bill, which would have applied to public and school restrooms, stalled in committee, so it never reached Haley's desk.

During the Dec. 6 debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Haley said she opposed the bill because of a lack of incidents involving transgender people in bathrooms. This was consistent with what The Washington Post reported in 2016 that she said at that time. In a 2022 appearance on Fox News, she again said she "strong-armed" the bill, adding that schools should resolve the issue with parents.

Haley lobbed a similar accusation at DeSantis: "When he was running for governor and they asked him about that, he said he didn't think bathroom bills were a good use of his time."

Her campaign cited a clip of DeSantis from his 2018 run for Florida governor in which he said at a campaign event that he would "not pass a law" restricting bathroom access. DeSantis said in the clip that "getting into the bathroom wars — I don't think that's a good use of our time."

Flash forward: In May 2023, DeSantis signed a law that restricts transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity in public schools, universities, government buildings and prisons, the Tampa Bay Times reported. DeSantis Distorts Haley's Position on Gender-Affirmation Surgery for Minors

By: Eugene Kiely, D'Angelo Gore, Robert Farley, Saranac Hale Spencer, Jessica McDonald, Alan Jaffe, and Lori Robertson
Online here

DeSantis claimed that Haley opposed a bill he signed prohibiting gender-affirming surgeries — or as he put it, "gender mutilation" — for minors. That's a distortion of Haley's position. Haley has said any "permanent change" for transgender people should only be allowed after a child has turned 18.

DeSantis raised the issue twice in the debate, both times leading to fiery exchanges in which Haley said DeSantis was distorting her position and DeSantis insisted he had video evidence to back up his claim.

In May, DeSantis signed into law a bill that prohibited "sex-reassignment prescriptions and procedures for patients younger than 18 years of age." The ban includes both surgeries as well as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

The video evidence DeSantis cites to back up his claim about Haley is an interview she did with CBS News on June 5, but he's cherry-picking her response. In the interview, CBS News' Tony Dokoupil asked Haley "what care should be on the table when a 12-year-old child in this country assigned female at birth says, 'actually I feel more comfortable living as a boy.' What should the law allow the response to be?"

"I think the law should stay out of it and I think parents should handle it. This is a job for the parents to handle," Haley said. "And then when that child becomes 18, if they want to make more of a permanent change, they can do that. But I think up until then, we see with our teenage kids, they go through a lot during puberty. They go through a lot of confusion, they go through a lot of anxiety, they go through a lot of pressures. We should support them the whole way through, but we don't need to go and enforce something in schools. We don't need schools sitting there hiding from the parents what gender pronoun they are using. We don't need to have those conversations in schools. Those are conversations that should be had at home."

A super PAC backing DeSantis also cited to us comments Haley made in a June 4 CNN town hall when speaking on the transgender issue. "I want everybody to live the way they want to live," Haley said. "Let's get them the help, the therapy, whatever they need so that they can feel better and not be suicidal."

In neither case did Haley advocate gender-affirming procedures for minors.

In fact, in a May 3 interview with ABC News, Haley specifically said, "You shouldn't allow a child to have a gender-changing procedure until the age of 18 when they are an adult."

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Checkers Confirm: DeSantis Lied Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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