“People say Ron’s all Trump. But he is so much more,” his wife, Casey, jokes before the screen flips to a shot of Mason lying in a crib, dressed in a red “Make America Great Again” onesie. “Bigly,” the gubernatorial candidate adds. “So good.”
“The ad is just meant to reinforce the fact that the President is endorsing Ron and that Ron has defended the President,” David Vasquez, a spokesman for DeSantis, told The Washington Post in an email. “It’s just a bit of humor.”
The tongue-in-cheek ad comes one month before the Florida gubernatorial primary, in which DeSantis is competing against seven other Republicans for a spot on the November ballot. But Trump’s endorsement gives DeSantis an edge over his opponents — and a bump in the latest polls.
DeSantis, who was elected to the House in 2012 and represents Florida’s 6th Congressional District, in the ad embraces a tactic used recently by some other Republican candidates. Republicans with longer political track records at times avoid obvious signs of kinship with the president. But DeSantis is taking a different approach. He’s letting voters in his state know how similar he and Trump are.
The 39-year-old Iraq War veteran talks like Trump. He fancies himself the “No. 1 conservative” in Florida and speaks of “draining the swamp” in his state’s capital. In July, DeSantis was rewarded with a campaign visit from the president’s eldest son.
“Why am I here in 2,000 percent humidity?” Donald Trump Jr. asked a crowd at an Orlando restaurant. “It’s because Ron DeSantis was there from Day 1. He was with us when it wasn’t exactly cool to be with us . . . when we were at zero percent.”
The show of support came amid bipartisan criticism of the president after he cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“There’s a reason Donald Trump endorsed me in this race, because he knows I’m a leader,” DeSantis said at the restaurant, according to the Associated Press.
DeSantis recently made headlines after criticizing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old who in June unseated a 20-year incumbent in a Democratic congressional primary in New York. Ocasio-Cortez draws disapproval from conservatives because of her calls to “abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency” and because she’s running on a democratic socialist platform.
“Rep DeSantis, it seems you’re confused as to ‘whatever I am,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet. “I am a Puerto Rican woman. It’s strange you don’t know what that is, given that ~75,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Florida in the 10 mos since María.”
“My problem is not with your identity but with your unhinged socialist views,” DeSantis responded in a tweet. “Socialism doesn’t work, Israel isn’t occupying ‘Palestine,’ borders matter and the unemployment rate is down because of good policies, not because people are ‘working two jobs.’”
“Trust me,” DeSantis added, “socialism wrapped in ignorance is something Floridians from all walks of life reject.”