Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended himself this week after sharing a widely condemned and mocked campaign ad that began by bragging about his continued reign of terror against the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and ended with the 2024 presidential candidate splicing images of himself in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders.
DeSantis received criticism from both sides of the political aisle over the weekend after his campaign released a video on Friday attacking Trump for his prior statements in support of the LGBTQ community during his 2016 campaign. The ad then touted DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies while splicing together images of DeSantis alongside “manly” images that bizarrely include oiled-up bodybuilders, Brad Pitt in “Troy” (twice), Leonardo DiCaprio in “Wolf of Wall Street” and Christian Bale as psychopathic serial killer Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho.”
DeSantis defended the video publicly for the first time this week, telling conservative political commenter Tomi Lahren: “Identifying Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream, where he was having men compete against women in his beauty pageants — I think that’s totally fair game, because he’s now campaigning saying the opposite.”
Christina Pushaw, the DeSantis campaign’s Rapid Response director, also defended the video on Twitter after former Trump official Richard Grenell called it “undeniably homophobic.”
“Opposing the federal recognition of ‘Pride Month’ isn’t ‘homophobic.’ We wouldn’t support a month to celebrate straight people for sexual orientation, either… It’s unnecessary, divisive, pandering,” Pushaw wrote. “In a country as vast and diverse as the USA, identity politics is poison.”
The New Republic blasted the video over the weekend, calling it one of “the weirdest ads in American political history.” And out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg tore into DeSantis during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“I’m gonna choose my words carefully, partly because I’m appearing as Secretary so I can’t talk about campaigns,” Buttigieg began. “And I’m going to leave aside the strangeness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders and just get to the bigger issue that is on my mind whenever I see this stuff in the policy space, which is, again, who are you trying to help? Who are you trying to make better off and what public policy problems do you get up in the morning thinking about how to solve?”
He added: “These are the kinds of problems that most of us got into government politics and public service in order to work on, and I just don’t understand the mentality of somebody who gets up in the morning thinking that he’s going to prove his worth by competing over who can make life hardest for a hard-hit community that is already so vulnerable in America.”
As The Bulwark summarized, “The ad’s intended message is that, unlike Trump, DeSantis will not show any humanity to gays and will be significantly more effective at targeting LGBT Americans by advancing the most ‘extreme slate of anti-trans laws in modern history.’”
Ron DeSantis' campaign has quietly deleted its vile, homophobic campaign ad after receiving almost universal condemnations for it. pic.twitter.com/vaDjjRHVNZ
— TheGailyGrind 🏳️🌈 (@thegailygrind) July 7, 2023