GOP Candidates Condemn DeSantis Video Bashing Trump for Supporting LGBT Rights

Several Republican presidential candidates criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for a new video his campaign released attacking former President Donald Trump for past comments supporting LGBT rights.


Several Republican presidential candidates criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for a new video his campaign released attacking former President Donald Trump for past comments supporting LGBT rights.

  • GOP presidential candidate and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was “not comfortable” with the ad in an interview with CNN. Christie continued, “This type of video does nothing to address those issues. And it is a teenage, you know, food fight between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. And I don’t think that’s what leaders should be doing.”
  • Another GOP presidential candidate, former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, called DeSantis’ focus on Trump’s past support for gay rights a distraction. “I wish they would focus their attacks on war criminals like Vladimir Putin, not my friends in the LGBTQ community,” said Hurd. “It is 2023. We should be talking about how do we embrace our differences.”
  • The video features clips of Trump expressing support for gay Americans, including snippets from his speech to the 2016 Republican National Convention accepting the GOP presidential nomination. The video was not produced by the DeSantis campaign but was shared by the campaign on Twitter.
  • One of the key quotes Trump is being attacked for is when he promised to protect gay Americans from hate crimes and terrorist attacks just weeks after 49 Americans were murdered at the Pulse gay nightclub by an Islamist terrorist. Trump said in 2016, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.”
  • DeSantis himself referred to the Pulse nightclub shooting “a horrific act of terrorism against the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities” just this past June.
  • The video then compares DeSantis’ record with Trump in what’s meant to be a positive contrast by citing news footage calling DeSantis “draconian” and “threaten[ing] trans existence.”
  • Strangely, during only the pro-DeSantis portion, the video includes homoerotic intercuts including repeatedly showing clips of Brad Pitt playing Achilles in the film “Troy,” a film that not-so-subtly portrays Achilles as gay.
  • The pro-DeSantis portion of the video includes a number of nods to gay culture while simultaneously praising DeSantis’s masculinity. It features several interludes of shirtless, buff men with gay dance music playing in the background.
  • Even the video’s bizarre comparison of DeSantis and Patrick Bateman, the serial killer in “American Psycho,” had gay undertones: the novel was written by Brett Easton Ellis, a gay man.
  • Log Cabin Republicans, the leading group for LGBT conservatives, blasted the DeSantis campaign for sharing the video which they said “ventured into homophobic territory.”
  • The group tweeted, “Today’s message from the DeSantis campaign War Room is divisive and desperate” and that DeSantis’ “naïve policy positions are dangerous and politically stupid.”

reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The Daily Beast published an op-ed from a lesbian Republican voter who called the video a bridge too far. “In theory, I am Ron DeSantis’ perfect voter. I am a lifelong conservative, I vehemently oppose any and all COVID restrictions, and I am passionately anti-Trump. What could be a more ideal voter for a candidate like DeSantis?” asked Yvonne Dean-Bailey. “I was undeniably on Team DeSantis before his campaign shared what could be considered the most anti-LGBTQ+ ad in recent history, boasting about all the measures he’s supported cracking down on the LGBTQ+ community.” 
  • Vanity Fair picked up comments on the video from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate. Buttigieg said, “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 his husband Chasten tweeted the ad was “actually very gay.” 
  • The New York Times called the decision to share the “provocative” video a sign that the DeSantis campaign is “seeking attention” as they try to revive their flatlining poll numbers. The Times also noted that this comes as a contrast to earlier in DeSantis’ career, when he didn’t make fighting the LGBT community a priority and privately said he didn’t care about people’ sexuality.



  • Fox News noted the video has racked up seven million views with “mixed reaction” – although the article did not actually include any positive responses to the video. 
  • The New York Post covered the reaction to the DeSantis video from several prominent conservatives. “Just because he’s so low in the polls doesn’t mean he’s got to take such cheap low shots!” said Caitlyn Jenner. “But this doesn’t deter me from being an outspoken Republican or MAGA voice. It’s just another day. DeSantis has way bigger problems than his latest homophobic ad.” Richard Grenell, Trump’s former acting Director of National Intelligence and the first openly gay Cabinet official concurred, calling the video “undeniably homophobic.” 
  • The Daily Mail shared criticism from Republican strategies including Andrew Clark, who worked for Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020. “Lots of issues with this video,” Clark tweeted. “Chiefly, the opening line from Trump saying ‘I’ll do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens’ as if that’s a huge hit? Is DeSantis opposed to protecting LGBTQ citizens?”


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© Dominic Moore, 2023