DeSantis’ latest attack on Haley claims she really just wants to be Trump’s vice president

(WASHINGTON) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign on Tuesday ramped up its attacks on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, accusing his Republican primary rival of running to be Donald Trump’s vice president — a position she indicated this month she would not accept.

DeSantis launched a new website with a sarcastic URL — trumpnikki2024.com — and a video ad meant to support the claim about Haley, in the latest sign of how the two are targeting each other as they jockey for a distant second-place spot to Trump in the 2024 race.

The minutelong ad, stocked with clips of television pundits talking about the race, highlights Haley’s decision to generally avoid sharply criticizing the former president, which is a difference from DeSantis, who has recently increased his attacks on Trump after months of holding his own fire.

Stamped at the top of the website is a spin-off of Trump’s campaign logo, with Haley’s name below Trump’s. Below it are the words “Make the Establishment Great Again.”

The site also lays out a timeline of the relationship between Trump and Haley, including past rumors that Haley might replace Mike Pence on Trump’s 2020 ballot — which a Haley spokeswoman denied to Politico at the time.

Responding to the website and ad, a Haley spokesperson told ABC News on Tuesday: “Phony Ron DeSantis has spent ten times more money attacking Nikki Haley than Donald Trump. He’ll say anything to try to salvage his sinking ship of a campaign. Nikki has been very clear from day one, she doesn’t play for second. Ron is trying to play for fourth in New Hampshire.”

Last week, during a stop in New Hampshire, DeSantis himself called on Haley to say whether or not she would accept the position of Trump’s vice president.

“She will not answer directly — and she owes you an answer to this — will she accept a vice presidential nomination from Donald Trump? Yes or no. I can tell you, under any circumstances, I will not accept that because that’s not why I’m running. I’m running for the nomination and to be president,” DeSantis said.

Haley had actually said a week earlier she would not accept a vice presidential position if it was offered to her.

“I don’t play for second,” she told a voter in Iowa who asked whether she would consider being Trump’s No 2. “I’ve never played for second my entire life. I’m not going to start right now.”

When pressed by the questioner if that was a “no,” Haley shook her head and made a throat-slashing gesture.

The DeSantis campaign referred ABC News to a comment the governor made in New Hampshire last week, when he argued that the lack of money Trump allies have spent attacking Haley shows their coziness.

However, a super PAC supporting Trump, Make America Great Again Inc., is now on the air going after Haley: In a new ad, the group hits Haley for, they say, flip-flopping on a gas tax hike while she was serving as governor of South Carolina.

On the new website, DeSantis’ campaign acknowledged the ad but criticized Haley for not responding, even though the former ambassador did exactly that on Tuesday in Atlantic, Iowa.

“Now Donald Trump’s running an ad against me. And we’ll be happy to take it. And what Trump’s ad says is a lie that Ron [DeSantis] already got called out for. He says I wanted to raise the gas tax. It’s absolutely not true. Americans for Tax Reform have already come out and said that that was totally misleading,” Haley said, before describing her record on the gas tax when she was governor.

Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, pointed to the lack of ad money Haley’s campaign has spent against Trump.

“Nikki Haley is so committed to her VP ambitions that she refuses to spend a dime attacking Donald Trump, despite MAGA Inc.’s new ad accurately blasting her for being a tax-hiking liberal,” Griffin told ABC News in a statement, in part.

ABC News’ Nicholas Kerr

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