Haley Hits DeSantis on Disney: Government Shouldn’t ‘Bully’ Companies

It was a feud that cost Florida 2,000 jobs under Gov. Ron DeSantis. And Nikki Haley pounced.

During a debate over Mr. DeSantis’s battle with Disney, Ms. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, pitched herself as a business-friendly politician who did not let personal slights get in the way of governing.

“When they went and criticized him, he got thin-skinned and suddenly started to fight back,” Ms. Haley said. “We don’t need government fighting against our private industries. We are not woke in South Carolina. I will always invite businesses to come to South Carolina. But the one thing you don’t do is government doesn’t bully our businesses.”

Mr. DeSantis’s feud with Disney stemmed from a statement released by the company after the governor had signed a law restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The company said that its “goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts.”

Mr. DeSantis was defiant.

“If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy,” Mr. DeSantis wrote in a fund-raising email at the time.

He began to target Disney with multiple actions, including ending Disney’s long-held ability to self-govern its 25,000-acre resort as if it were a county and creating plans to subject Disney to new ride inspection regulations.

The company sued and has been locked in a legal battle with Mr. DeSantis. But perhaps most damaging to Mr. DeSantis was the decision by Disney to pull the plug on an office complex that was scheduled for construction in Orlando at a cost of roughly $1 billion, with more than 2,000 new jobs for the region.

Mr. DeSantis, in his rebuttal on Wednesday, said he had no regrets.

“We need to stand up for the people and not bow down to woke corporations, and we know Nikki Haley will cave to the woke mob every single time,” Mr. DeSantis said.

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