At CNN’s town hall Tuesday night, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of former South Carolina Gov. and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. He beat her despite the fact that, according to him, she only spent money on TV ads that attacked him, giving former President Donald Trump a pass.
“She spent 100% of her money attacking me, and not one red cent attacking Donald Trump,” DeSantis claimed. “And I faced almost $50 million in total. I got in second and she did not.”
Facts First: This is mostly true but needs context. Yes, DeSantis was the target of nearly all of the spending by Haley’s campaign and allied groups in Iowa. But they have spent millions of dollars hitting Trump in other states, including in New Hampshire, where she is more competitive in the latest polls.
The Florida governor’s complaints about Haley’s spending in Iowa are well-founded.
In the past year, Haley and her allies have devoted significantly more resources to attacking DeSantis instead of Trump. According to data from AdImpact, Haley’s campaign and allied super PACs have spent about $12.5 million on TV ads targeting DeSantis, with at least $9.8 million on ads airing in Iowa.
But according to AdImpact’s data, Haley and her allies have also spent about $2.9 million in the past year on TV ads criticizing Trump. Virtually all of these ads have aired in New Hampshire, not in Iowa.
SFA Fund, a super PAC supporting Haley, has spent over $500,000 airing an ad responding to some of Trump’s attacks, saying “one temper tantrum after another, his entire campaign, based on revenge.” The same group has also spent over $1 million on another ad against Trump, saying, “Why is Donald Trump only attacking Nikki Haley? Because Trump knows Haley’s the only one who can beat him.”