Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his campaign’s decision to share a third-party video ripping former President Donald Trump over his past remarks expressing support for the LGBTQ community.
“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,” DeSantis told Outkick’s Tomi Lahren Wednesday.
The spot highlights Trump remarks from 2016 vowing to “do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens” and saying he would allow Caitlyn Jenner to use whichever bathroom she wants.
The then-candidate’s pledge at the Republican National Convention came a month after the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, a gay hotspot where 49 people were slaughtered on June 12, 2016.
The video, which was shared by the pugnacious DeSantis War Room rapid response account on June 30, juxtaposed Trump’s remarks against a masculine portrayal of DeSantis as a pulsing electronic beat played in the background.
It also highlighted some of the backlash DeSantis received while governor for cracking down on gender ideology in the classroom.
“DeSantis is evil,” read one headlined touted in the spot.
LGBTQ members of the GOP and conservative movement heavily assailed the Florida governor in response to the ad.
“DeSantis has hit a new low. But he’s so desperate he’ll do anything to get ahead — that’s been the theme of his campaign,” Jenner tweeted in response.
“This is undeniably homophobic,” tweeted Richard Grenell, an openly gay former Trump administration official who served as ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence.
“Conservatives understand that we need to protect our kids, preserve women’s sports, safeguard women’s spaces and strengthen parental rights, but Ron DeSantis’ extreme rhetoric goes has just ventured into homophobic territory,” the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest group of gay GOPers, said.
In the interview with Lahren, DeSantis underscored his efforts to protect women’s sports and children from the excesses of the transgender movement.
“We’ve been very clear on it, that we believe in protecting the rights of our girls and the rights of women athletes to be able to participate with fairness and with integrity,” he said.
“And ultimately when you talk about some of the gender ideology that’s being unleashed in this country, in the state of Florida, we are fighting back against that.”
DeSantis has cast himself as a conservative champion in the culture wars and courted blowback from the LGBTQ community in the past, including for signing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which opponents dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The law restricted classroom instruction in sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through the third grade. The law was expanded to apply to all grades in April.