Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his energy policies, including his support for an offshore oil drilling ban in his state, during the second Republican debate Wednesday night.
"Energy security is national security. We need a president that understands we have to partner with our producers and make sure that we have their backs. What you don't need is a president who is against energy independence. Ron DeSantis is against fracking, he's against drilling, he's been against — you did it," Haley remarked before DeSantis interjected.
"You banned fracking, you banned offshore drilling — you did it on federal lands and you took green subsidies that you didn't have to take," she continued.
DeSantis appeared to laugh during Haley's remarks before rejecting that he opposed fracking or drilling on federal lands.
"I just did a plan out in West Texas for American energy dominance," he responded to Haley. "We're going to choose Midland over Moscow, we're going to choose the Marcellus over the mullahs, and we're going to choose Bakken over Beijing. And we are going to lower your gas prices. We are going to get that job done because it's important for our national security, it's important for jobs, and that's one of the best ways to drive down inflation."
He then noted a Florida constitutional amendment passed in 2018 that bans offshore drilling three miles into the Atlantic Ocean and nine miles into the Gulf of Mexico. The measure was passed by voters to protect marine wildlife that would be impacted by such activity.
DeSantis also stated that he backed onshore drilling in Florida, though the state has far fewer resources than other oil-rich states.
"So, that's just wrong. And let's just get real here. My plan will get the job done," he said.
Following DeSantis' response, the Haley campaign issued a press release stating that he changed his opinion on drilling after being elected governor of Florida.
"DeSantis changed his tune when he became a candidate for governor, calling on the Trump administration to drop plans for drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico," the campaign said. "On his second day in office as governor, DeSantis issued executive orders banning fracking and offshore drilling in Florida. He was praised by the Sierra Club."
The second RNC debate is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, is being televised on the FOX Business Network and UNIVISION.
To qualify for the debate, candidates were required to have at least 3% support in two national polls or 3% in one national poll as well as two polls from four of the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Candidates also needed to show they had at least 50,000 individual donors.
On Tuesday, the RNC announced where the seven Republican candidates participating in the debate will stand on stage. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to stand center stage flanked by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, North Dakota Gov Doug Burgum and former Vice President Mike Pence.