DeSantis and Haley Well Received by Evangelical Christians at Iowa Faith and Leadership Summit

DES MOINES, Iowa — In closing the nationally watched Family Leadership Summit late Friday afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ratcheted up the political rhetoric and sounded more fired up than he’s been at some of his previous campaign trips to Iowa.

“With me, on Day 1, you get a new FBI director,” the top-tier candidate for the Republican Party presidential nomination told the crowd of 1,700-plus attendees at the 12th evangelical Christian conference.

DeSantis was the last on the hot seat, interviewed by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who had spent the day grilling five of the governor’s presidential opponents. Candidates at the political cattle call included: former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ohio businessman and anti-woke crusader Vivek Ramaswamy, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Most were cordially, if not warmly received, by the audience of faithful conservatives. But DeSantis, Ramaswamy, and Haley appeared to grab much of the applause.

Carlson spent a lot of time on Russia’s war in Ukraine and increasing U.S. involvement. He asked DeSantis why he seemingly flip-flopped on his earlier view that the war was a territorial dispute not central to American interests.

“Pretty soon after you seemed to change your view,” Carlson said. “Why did you change and where are you now?”

DeSantis explained that there was a misunderstanding in part pushed by his political enemies. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, he said the lesson he learned is that the U.S. military must have a plan going in and getting out.

“I think the goal should be to have a sustainable peace in Europe,” the governor said. “You have to provide an articulation of where you’re going to go to get there. My fear right now is they’re basically doing an open-ended conflict. This is going to be.a multi-year quagmire. There’s going to be a lot of people that die, and there’s not going to be much facts change on the ground.”

He reiterated that the United States’ biggest threat isn’t Russia; it’s China. DeSantis got lots of love from the Iowa crowd when he said his state banned the purchase of land to entities tied to the Chinese Communist Party.

DeSantis drew resounding support from the audience when he said he would “nix Central Bank digital currency” should he be elected president. Earlier this month, the New York Fed and its partners announced that a three-month digital dollar pilot for global payments had shown promising results, according to Reuters.

“Up to now, the U.S. has lagged much of the rest of the world in CBDC development,” the news outlet reported. “In part because the stewards of the global reserve currency have less to gain from changes to the monetary status quo. But it hasn’t helped that the idea of a CBDC has encountered populist opposition in the U.S., where opponents have speculated it could be used to impose a restrictive social-credit system.”

DeSantis said the Biden administration can’t seem to keep anything straight.

“We don’t know whose cocaine it is in the White House,” DeSantis said to laughter.

On Friday, the Secret Service closed its invention into a packet of cocaine left behind in Biden’s White House without naming a perpetrator. Agents reportedly did so without conducting interviews. The fruitless probe raised more suspicions of another White House cover-up.

Haley told Carlson that in her experience as U.N. ambassador, only a select few cabinet officials — including the president, vice president, secretaries and deputy secretaries — are permitted in the area of the White House where the nose candy was found.

“That’s a bigger problem. If you have someone doing cocaine and deciding on national security, that’s what I’m worried about,” Haley told Carlson, who quipped: “Well, and it shows, I would say.”

Carlson tried to get Haley to bite on the rigged 2020 election question, musing about the impressive, arguably miraculous 81 million votes Biden apparently collected — 12 million more than Barack Obama’s record-breaking vote count in the 2008 presidential election.

“Do you accept that for a second? How did he do that?” the host asked.

Haley redirected, saying Republicans need to vote Biden out of office next year because “we can’t afford a President Kamala Harris.”

Carlson pressed. He said it wasn’t a trick question. He just wanted to know how it happened. Haley agreed Biden did little campaigning.

“Nobody in Washington said, ‘I want my kid to grow up to be Joe Biden. But he got 81 million votes. How did he do that? What can we learn from it?” Carlson asked again.

Haley said all states need to follow her home state of South Carolina’s model and implement photo ID at the polls. She said she would prefer if America went back to all paper ballots, and that election integrity reforms needed to be signed into law everywhere. It’s aspirational. Blue states have fought against voter ID and other election integrity measures, declaring they are restrictive, discriminatory and an assault on democracy.

Still, Haley doesn’t believe the 2020 election was stolen from the Republican Party’s presidential nominee front-runner, former President Donald Trump, who, coincidentally opted not to attend the summit.

“I think we all know there were irregularities in there, things that should not have happened,” the former governor said. “Do I think that changed the results of the election? No. I think President Biden ended up winning the election, but I think at the end of the day it showed we’e got a lot of work to do in terms of election integrity.”

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Nikki Haley” by Nikki Haley. 




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