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Nikki Haley said ‘’ 16 times in Iowa debate. How accurate is the website?

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both speaking at the at the CNN Republican presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 10, 2024(AP) Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both speaking at the at the CNN Republican presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 10, 2024(AP)

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both speaking at the at the CNN Republican presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 10, 2024(AP)

Grace Abels
By Grace Abels January 11, 2024
Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman January 11, 2024

Four minutes into the Iowa Republican presidential debate, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley directed viewers to a website her campaign started to counter what she called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ "lies."

"You're gonna find out tonight there's going to be a lot of Ron's lies that have happened," Haley said  in the Jan. 10 CNN debate at Drake University in Des Moines. "So, what we're going to do is rather than have him go and tell you all these lies, you can go to" 

Haley referred viewers to the website 16 times during the two-hour debate’s feistier moments. 

DeSantis, meanwhile, had the "greatest hits" and "videotape" of Haley’s "lies" ready to go on his campaign website, But he didn’t bring it up nearly as often.

Screenshot via website

The DeSantisLies website lists what it calls 21 "documented lies," from "Confucius Institutes" to "Social Security." Many of the topics can be traced to published fact-checks by PolitiFact and other media outlets. (Thanks for the web traffic.) However, we didn’t always rate the statements "false," as Haley’s website does, and we use the word "lie" only once a year.

Here’s a fact-checker’s review of Haley’s fact-checking website. While some of the 21 claims on feature independent fact-checks of false or misleading information, others serve more to distinguish political differences between the candidates. 

RELATED: Fact-checking the 2024 Iowa debate between Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley on CNN

Tax Increases

One of Haley’s first references to the website was when DeSantis claimed Haley tried to raise South Carolina’s gasoline tax when she was governor. "Bless his heart — — we have never raised a tax," she said. "I have never raised the tax at all." 

The website repeats a more nuanced version of the statement: "Haley never supported a net tax increase." It says any proposed increase she supported was paired with a proposed tax cut.  

PolitiFact rated the claim that Haley "raised taxes" Mostly False. (She linked to our story.) When she was a South Carolina state legislator, she co-sponsored a 2006 bill that raised the sales tax by 1 cent while also cutting property taxes — a change that a university researcher said would lower overall taxes for most homeowners. But people who do not own property did not benefit from the tax cut.

As governor, Haley proposed coupling an increase in the gasoline tax with an income tax cut, but it didn’t pass while she was in office. 

Transgender surgeries

Haley name-dropped the website again when DeSantis attacked her for saying the "law should stay out of" gender-affirming care for minors.

In defense, Haley pointed to her website: "The first thing I'll say is, again,, because I have never said anything related to the transgender stuff he says."

That isn’t accurate. In a June CBS interview, Haley said when determining what care should be available for transgender youth, the "law should stay out of it, and I think parents should handle it." She followed up by saying, "When that child becomes 18, if they want to make more of a permanent change they can do that."

Haley’s website describes DeSantis’ claim as more black and white, writing that "DeSantis falsely claims Nikki Haley supports gender-changing surgeries for minors," and she links to a May ABC News appearance during which she said that minors shouldn’t be allowed to have a "gender-changing procedure" and opposed "taxpayer dollars" funding one. 

In the CNN debate, Haley reiterated that "we shouldn’t have any gender transitions before the age of 18." 

Border wall 

When the topic turned to immigration, DeSantis claimed Haley opposed the border wall in 2016. "She ridiculed it when Donald Trump was for it and I'm telling you, you need a wall."

Haley replied, "I said you can’t just build a wall," referring again to the website. "You have to do more than build a wall. It was having the wall and everything else. You can't trust what Ron’s saying."

Haley’s right. We rated a statement similar to DeSantis’ from former President Donald Trump False.

Haley didn’t oppose Trump’s border wall. In 2015, she said border security required more than a border wall and that technology, infrastructure and funding were also necessary. On the 2024 campaign trail, Haley has said she wants to finish building a border wall.

Retirement Age 

During the debate, DeSantis borrowed another misleading attack by Trump to hit Haley on Social Security. "She said recently that the age of Social Security is way too low," DeSantis said. 

We rated Trump’s similar claim by Half True. But to Haley, the attack is another "lie."

"When I said the retirement age was too low, again where he’s lying, it's because if you go — and you can go to — I said it’s too low if we’re gonna look at those in their 20s," Haley replied.

During an Aug. 24 Bloomberg Markets interview, Haley said the U.S. retirement age, when Americans can collect Social Security and Medicare benefits, is "way too low." She said it should be raised in line with longer life expectancy. And she made clear that she didn’t support changing the age for current beneficiaries or those nearing retirement.

Not all "fact-checks" 

The website also features "lies" that never came up during the debate. Some are claims we have fact-checked, such as one from a pro-DeSantis PAC that "Nikki Haley argues in support of bringing Gaza refugees to America."

That’s False. Haley said many people in Gaza want to be free of terrorist rule, and that America's "always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists."

Some examples on veer closer to opinion, prediction and political rhetoric rather than checkable statements — such as the "lie" that DeSantis "​​will take on the big spenders in Washington," or that "Haley always caves to the left." These are broad statements or promises that we would not fact-check.

PolitiFact Staff Writer Loreben Tuquero contributed to this report.

RELATED: Ron DeSantis said a NYC school displaced students to house migrants. Here’s what happened.

RELATED: Fact-check: Haley calls out Florida’s property insurance, inflation rate in CNN debate with DeSantis

RELATED: Debate fact-check: Ron DeSantis’ misleading claim that 8 million migrants have come in under Biden

RELATED: Who’s right on life expectancy, Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley? Both 

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Nikki Haley said ‘’ 16 times in Iowa debate. How accurate is the website?