As he eyes a possible White House bid, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has stepped up his national endorsements and just cut a new TV advertisement for an out-of-state Republican, Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
Polling in Utah is scarce because it’s a Republican state and few expect Lee to lose to his independent challenger, Evan McMullin. But the conservative Club for Growth Action political committee has spent as much as $8 million on the race just in case, and it's financing this DeSantis ad that begins airing Wednesday in Utah.
The club had a breakup with former President Donald Trump, who is considering announcing his bid for president as early as this month, and it turned to DeSantis to vouch for Lee, who distanced himself somewhat from Trump at a debate two weeks ago.
“Utah voters know Gov. DeSantis is a conservative leader whose judgement they can trust because of his handling of Florida’s economy, schools, and the pandemic,” David McIntosh, Club for Growth Action president, said in a written statement.
The 30-second spot is designed to impart one message: Republicans and conservatives need to stick with Lee.
“His opponent endorsed Biden for President,” DeSantis says in the ad. “He’s no independent, he’s a donkey in sheep’s clothing. He’ll be a vote for Biden not for Utah.”
DeSantis, who often polls second to Trump in national hypothetical 2024 matchups, was hesitant for months to expand his national footprint with out-of-state campaign appearances. But in April, that started to change when DeSantis traveled to Nevada for an event with Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, who was DeSantis’s roommate when the two attended the Naval Justice School in the mid 2000s.
From there, DeSantis was a speaker at Turning Point Action’s August and September events with Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Arizona’s Blake Masters. He has also campaigned for or endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake in Arizona, Tim Michels in Wisconsin, Derek Schmitt in Kansas, Mark Ronchetti in New Mexico, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Gov. Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma.
Last week, Trump paid attention to one of DeSantis’s endorsements, a robocall for Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea who said he would campaign against Trump if the former president announced a comeback bid.
Trump said on his Truth Social media platform that DeSantis made “a big mistake…. MAGA Doesn’t vote for stupid people with big mouths.”