DeSantis Adviser Continues Campaign’s Sharp Attack on Haley

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A top adviser to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Friday accused Nikki Haley of “greed” as a candidate, saying that she’s trying to damage him to help former President Donald J. Trump in the Iowa caucuses.

The comments from David Polyansky, Mr. DeSantis’s deputy campaign manager, came at an event hosted by Bloomberg News on Friday in downtown Des Moines, as the blizzard buffeting the city forced the campaign to cancel some events later in the day — though Mr. Polyansky said that Mr. DeSantis’s ground game was best equipped for the brutal weather barreling.

He was joined by the campaign’s spokesman, Andrew Romeo, and its pollster, Ryan Tyson, but he did most of the talking. He said that Ms. Haley is running in Iowa to draw votes toward Mr. Trump and siphon them away from Mr. DeSantis.

Mr. Polyansky also repeated Mr. DeSantis’s claim that Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, is running to be Mr. Trump’s vice-presidential pick, and criticized her for not ruling out joining a Trump ticket.

Her donors’ dollars “are essentially in-kind contributions to Donald Trump,” he said. “Competition is trying to win. Competition isn’t trying to help one of your opponents,” he said.

Later that day, the DeSantis campaign announced that Mr. DeSantis planned to fly straight from Iowa to South Carolina, Ms. Haley’s home state, after the caucuses, to hold a surprise event there on Jan. 16, his campaign said. He will then proceed to New Hampshire, which votes on Jan. 23, for a CNN town hall that evening. The news was first reported by The Associated Press.

Although he is trailing in the polls there, Mr. DeSantis’s decision would seem to be a shot at Ms. Haley, as well as a signal to Mr. Trump that he intends to stay in the race. “We hope Donald Trump is ready for a long, scrappy campaign,” Andrew Romeo, the DeSantis campaign’s communications director, said in a statement.

Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Ms. Haley, said that Mr. DeSantis would “say anything to distract from his flailing campaign” after “burning through $150 million in Iowa and losing half his support in the polls.” She added, “Nikki is the only Trump alternative candidate with the resources and momentum to go the distance.”

Mr. DeSantis has been bludgeoned by ads from both Mr. Trump’s world and Ms. Haley’s. But Mr. Trump’s team has also aired attack ads against Ms. Haley.

Mr. DeSantis has been battling to hold onto second place in a state that he had once banked his candidacy on and in which aides had predicted privately last fall that he would win easily. Mr. Polyansky described the campaign as “joyful,” and said the candidate and the team are having “fun.”

He declined to answer when the campaign last conducted a poll. Mr. Tyson, seated two seats away from him, also answered few questions.

Mr. Polyansky insisted that the volunteer operation and the work by the DeSantis team — whose field operation has been conducted mostly by a super PAC, Never Back Down — would be critical if temperatures are below zero, as expected, on Monday. But he also said that he could not predict the turnout.

“I don’t know how to measure it anymore, I don’t,” he said. The Trump team, he added, claims “they’ve got a great organization and maybe they do.”

He added, “We’ll find out on Monday night.”

Mr. Polyansky maintained that Mr. DeSantis planned to remain in the race through South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 24.

He also said that Mr. DeSantis, who has been criticized even among conservatives for not taking a fight more directly to Mr. Trump, has been going straight at the front-runner for months. Yet Mr. Polyansky’s toughest attacks during the Bloomberg meeting focused on Ms. Haley.

Mr. Tyson, a long-serving adviser to Mr. DeSantis, was asked Friday what happened to his camp after the Florida governor’s re-election victory last year, when he had seemed poised to potentially overtake Mr. Trump.

“I don’t really have an answer for that,” Mr. Tyson said. When asked if he wished that Mr. DeSantis had waited until 2028 to run for president, he said that he stood by Mr. DeSantis.

“I don’t have any second thoughts on that,” Mr. Tyson said.

He added, “Doing this second-guessing thing, I just don’t feel is appropriate for me,” during what he described as an “unprecedented atmosphere.” And he said: “I don’t think that’s helpful.”

Nicholas Nehamas contributed reporting from Des Moines.



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