Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she will only agree to further presidential debates if former President Trump or President Biden attend.
Haley made the declaration after coming in third place in the Iowa caucuses, trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Trump.
“We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,” Nikki Haley said. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”
DeSantis was quick to capitalize on Haley’s announcement, arguing she “is running to be Trump’s VP.”
“Nikki Haley is afraid to debate because she doesn’t want to answer the tough questions such as how she got rich off Boeing after giving them millions in taxpayer handouts as governor of South Carolina,” DeSantis wrote on X. “The reality is that she is not running for the nomination, she’s running to be Trump’s VP.”
“I won’t snub New Hampshire voters like both Nikki Haley and Donald Trump, and plan to honor my commitments. I look forward to debating two empty podiums in the Granite State this week,” he added.
Haley secured 19% of the vote in Iowa’s caucuses Monday night, closely following DeSantis, who had 21%. Trump was far ahead of the pack with 51%.
Trump issued a blanket refusal to participate in any Republican primary debate early on in the process, citing his massive lead over the other candidates.
It is unclear whether Trump would agree to debating Biden if he secures the GOP nomination.
Haley’s campaign vowed to continue for the long haul Monday night, despite the disappointing results in Iowa.
“The Iowa results and the New Hampshire polls show Donald Trump is more vulnerable than commonly believed. He is the polarizing figure he has long been,” campaign manager Betsy Ankeny wrote in a statement. “Trump and Biden are the two most disliked politicians in America.”