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Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Manchester, N.H.
Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., on April 27, 2023.Charles Krupa / AP

Eyes on 2024: GOP ad war kicks off at record-shattering pace

Ad spending in the GOP presidential primary has already surpassed $32 million, per AdImpact.

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The fight for the Republican presidential nomination is already breaking ad-spending records as the confluence of well-funded candidates and a proxy war of big-money outside groups have hit the airwaves. So far, more than $32 million has been spent on ads in the race this year, per the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. 

The pace is historic — Democrats in 2019 didn’t cross the $30 million ad-spending threshold (like Republicans did last week) until July. And Republicans in 2015 didn’t hit $30 million in ad spending on their open presidential nominating fight until October of that year.  

And the massive escalation comes as candidates have taken great lengths to fill their super PAC coffers and woo mega-donors behind the bids, gearing up for a costly fight. 

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In other campaign news… 

A split on pardons for Jan. 6 rioters: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis told a conservative talk show he would have his staff look into pardons on “day one” of his presidential term, including for those prosecuted related to the 2021 attack on the Capitol, and didn’t rule out the idea of pardoning Trump if he’s charged. New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu told CNN he wouldn’t do that, but DeSantis’ opinion is “not disqualifying.”

Get by with a little help from his friends: NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald reports on how Biden will be leaning on surrogates ahead of his re-election bid. 

DeSantis’ takes: DeSantis criticized the deal reached over the weekend to raise the debt ceiling and avert default, saying during a Fox News appearance that the country “will still be careening towards bankruptcy.” DeSantis also said recently that he would work to repeal the so-called First Step Act, a criminal justice overhaul passed during Trump’s administration. 

All eyes on Iowa: DeSantis is heading to Iowa Tuesday to kick off his presidential campaign Iowa, and the Washington Post reports that DeSantis and his allies see an opening in the Hawkeye State. Meanwhile, Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst, who doesn’t plan to endorse a candidate in the primary, is stepping into her role hosting GOP candidates and shaping the future of her party, Politico reports. 

Trump talk: As Trump’s hush money case moves forward, prosecutors said they have evidence that includes a recording of Trump and a witness, per a recent court filing, NBC News’ Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian report. 

Sununu watch: Sununu said over the weekend that he will likely make a decision on whether to run for president “in the next week or two.”  

Super for Christie: The New York Times reports that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s allies have formed a super PAC to bolster his expected presidential bid, which he could make official in the next two weeks. 

Scott on the air: South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign launched two new TV ads, a 30-second spot and a 60-second spot, both featuring footage of his campaign launch speech, per AdImpact. 

California jockeying: NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald and Alicia Victoria Lozano unpack the “ugly proxy war” playing out in California between the three Democrats competing to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein, amid questions about whether Feinstein should remain in the Senate.   

Ohio standoff: The GOP’s effort to stymie an abortion rights constitutional amendment is heading to court, NBC News’ Adam Edelman reports.