Did DeSantis go too far?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for president, is facing criticism for a video released by his campaign that attacks former President Trump for his past statements supporting the LGBTQ community. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to serve as a Cabinet secretary, responded to the video, questioning who DeSantis was trying to benefit with its release. Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender former Olympic athlete, called the video a new low for the campaign. Even potential Republican presidential contenders Chris Christie and Will Hurd denounced the video as divisive.
According to The Hill, the video, shared on the last day of LGBTQ Pride month, features old clips of Trump expressing his commitment to protecting LGBTQ citizens and supporting transgender individuals’ right to choose which restroom to use. It then contrasts these clips with DeSantis’s actions as Florida governor, including a ban on transgender individuals using public bathrooms matching their gender identity and restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare.
In response to the video, some LGBTQ Republicans expressed their disappointment and stated that they would no longer support DeSantis as the Republican nominee in 2024. Some even questioned their support for any Republican candidate. Brad Polumbo, an openly gay libertarian journalist, mentioned his initial consideration of voting for DeSantis but has since been increasingly dissatisfied with the governor’s actions. Yvonne Dean-Bailey, a former New Hampshire state representative, also considered backing DeSantis but now plans to vote for a third-party candidate. Rep. George Santos, the first non-incumbent gay Republican elected to Congress, expressed a change in his opinion of DeSantis, highlighting the governor’s miscalculation of voter sentiment.
While some Republicans believe the video reflects DeSantis’s efforts to appeal to social conservatives, particularly in Iowa, others view it as an attempt to position himself to the right of Trump. Polling conducted by a pro-DeSantis super PAC in May showed that 46 percent of Christian respondents preferred DeSantis in the caucuses, while 45 percent favored Trump. The same polling indicated that 60 percent of “traditional Republicans” would caucus for DeSantis over the former president.