Fact-Checking Nikki Haley And Ron DeSantis’ CNN Town Halls

Check Your Fact Staff | Contributor

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom are vying for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, appeared on CNN for town halls in Iowa Jan. 4. There, they discussed foreign policy, former President Donald Trump, and other topics.

Here are fact-checks on a few of their claims.

“But part of it is, we haven’t had a president elected who’s been a veteran since 1988, a president that served in a foreign conflict.” -DeSantis. 

The last president to serve in a foreign conflict was former President George H.W. Bush. Bush served in the U.S. Navy as a torpedo bomber pilot in World War II, according to his biography on the White House website. He flew 58 combat missions and was shot down once in the Pacific. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

His son, George W. Bush, served in the Texas National Guard as a fighter pilot. DeSantis, also a U.S. Navy veteran, was deployed to Iraq and also supported operations at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, according to his biography on the Florida Department of State website. (RELATED: Fact-Checking The Fourth Republican Presidential Debate)

“[Trump] praised China’s President Xi a dozen times after China gave us COVID. You don’t do that.” -Haley. 

Trump praised China and Chinese President Xi Jinping several times in January and February 2020, according to Politico. Even after Trump signed an executive order restricting travel from China, he praised the Chinese strongman several times.

“I just spoke to President Xi last night, and, you know, we’re working on the — the problem, the virus. It’s a — it’s a very tough situation. But I think he’s going to handle it. I think he’s handled it really well. We’re helping wherever we can,” Trump said Feb.7, 2020, during remarks in South Carolina.

CNN reported in April 2020 that Trump praised China 37 times between January and April 1, 2020. During an April 1, 2020 press briefing, Trump said that he had a “good relationship” with China and Jinping, the outlet reported.

“Our economy is ranked number one of all 50 states by CNBC.” -DeSantis

A CNBC spokesperson told Check Your Fact in an email that the claim is in “reference is to CNBC’s Top States for Business list of 2023.”  The spokesperson included a link to an article from July 2023 showing the outlet’s rankings.  CNBC reported that Florida is ranked number one for its economy, with 4 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 and 4.9 percent job growth.

“Price appreciation is the fastest in the nation at around 15%, while construction activity is strong, and foreclosures are minimal,” the article reads.

The U.S. News and World Report ranked Florida as #7 in economy, along with #12 in business environment, #14 in employment and #8 in growth. Tourism plays a significant role in the state’s GDP and pays a large portion of Florida’s sales tax, resulting in no personal income tax, the report reads.

“70 percent of federal employees are still working from home three years after COVID.” -Haley

A poll found that nearly 70% of federal employees still telework, according to a November 2023 article by Federal Times. For these findings, the article references a survey from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The OPM found that of 625,568 survey participants, one-third do not telework, while the remainder—about 68%—telework at least occasionally, most saying about three to four days a week. OPM’s 2022 survey yielded similar results, with an approximate 70-30 split between federal employees who telework and those who don’t.

President Joe Biden, in August 2023, called on the Cabinet to “aggressively execute” plans for federal employees to return to office following years of remote work spurred by the pandemic, according to Axios. Biden had previously said “the vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person” during a State of the Union address in March 2022, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Fact-Checking The Nov. 30 DeSantis-Newsom Debate)

Elias Atienza and Anna Mock contributed to this report. 

Check Your Fact Staff