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“Haley’s Ad: From China Barbs to Words in DeSantis’ Mouth”

In the midst of the heated debate over China’s influence in the American political and economic sphere, U.S. Representative Nikki Haley and her South Carolina gubernatorial primary rival, Catherine Templeton, have been trading barbs. The most recent skirmish has come in the form of an ad from the pro-Haley South Carolina First Political Action Committee.

The ad portrays Templeton in a way that implies that the conservative Republican backs the Chinese government’s authoritarian measures in its restive Xinjiang region. The ad also accuses Templeton of supporting indefinite detention policies in the United States in another effort to link her with the Chinese government’s human rights record.

Templeton has responded to the ad by accusing Haley of “trying to weaponize China in her own political fight.” She contends that the ad deliberately misrepresents her views to score political points at her expense. “The only person who is standing up for the Chinese government is Nikki Haley,” said Templeton.

The ad, which was created and funded by South Carolina First, does not actually say whether Templeton supports the Chinese government or its policies. What is clear, however, is that the ad carefully crafts a narrative that paints Templeton as sympathetic to the Chinese government, while at the same time avoiding explicitly claiming that she does.

Though Templeton and Haley are both Republicans, they do differ in their views on foreign and trade policy. Much of their disagreement focuses on their approach to China. In addition to his own record on China – which includes criticism of American companies doing business there – Haley has advanced an economic nationalist agenda that is more critical of China than Templeton’s.

At the same time, the gubernatorial primary race between the two is heating up and represents a high-stakes battle for the future of the Republican Party in the state. This ad simply reflects the level of intensity that has become commonplace in what most observers expect to become one of the most closely fought contests of the 2018 midterms.

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