Ron DeSantis blames Donald Trump for making trans issues ‘mainstream’

Ron DeSantis Donald Trump

Ron DeSantis appears to believe that boasting about how much more anti-LGBTQ+ he is than Donald Trump is “fair game” and we’re so very, very tired.

The Florida governor and presidential candidate defended a bizarre campaign ad shared by the rapid response team for his 2024 campaign – curiously named the ‘DeSantis War Room’ – which attempted to frame Trump as sympathetic towards trans people.

The ad is cut with segments showing DeSantis marching through airbases, edited in between short shots of the infamous fictional serial killer Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, who has become a twisted symbol of masculinity among far-right and neo-Nazi groups.

It faced a wave of backlash, not just from those condemning its messaging, but also for the sheer cringe factor of the minute-long campaign ad.

But, in an interview with Fox News host Tomi Lahren, DeSantis said the ad was “totally fair game” and claimed that indicted former president Trump was the one who brought discussions of trans rights “into the mainstream”.

“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 because he’s now campaigning saying the opposite, that he doesn’t think that you should have men competing in women’s things like athletics,” DeSantis said.

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“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.”

Despite the fact that transgender people have existed for centuries before Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump were even born, his claim appears to confirm that DeSantis’ 2024 campaign will prioritise his “anti-woke” rhetoric.

Again, we are so unbelievably tired.

But we aren’t the only ones. US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg shared his views on the ad in a 2 July interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

Buttigieg commented on the “strangeness” of DeSantis proving his definitely, honestly, very real manhood by featuring alongside “oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders”, while adding that the explicitly homophobic, transphobic, and bigoted energy from the ad is reprehensible.

“I just don’t understand the mentality of somebody who gets up in the morning, thinking that he’s going to prove his worth by competing over who can make life hardest for a hard-hit community,” he said.

The openly gay transportation secretary added that he was puzzled by DeSantis’ campaign strategy of targeting a community that is “already so vulnerable in America”.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung also commented on the ad, saying to NBC News that it was the sign of a “flailing candidate in its last throes of relevancy”.

But DeSantis’ campaign is still clinging to the cringe-worthy advertisement, with spokesperson Christina Pushaw criticising those who called the ad “undeniably homophobic,” despite it commending Florida’s explicit exclusion of LGBTQ+ people.

“Opposing the federal recognition of ‘Pride Month’ isn’t ‘homophobic,’” Pushaw claimed. “We wouldn’t support a month to celebrate straight people for sexual orientation, either.

“It’s unnecessary, divisive, pandering. In a country as vast and diverse as the USA, identity politics is poison.”