DeSantis Campaign Trails Trump but Still Raises $20M in Donations

Dayana Sabatin

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Republican candidate Ron DeSantis has raised approximately $20 million in campaign funds since he launched his bid for the United States presidency in late May. The disclosure coincides with the submission of financial disclosures by candidates for the second quarter of 2024 to the Federal Election Commission.

DeSantis's fundraising falls short of the reported $35 million raised by his Republican rival and former President Donald Trump in the same quarter. Nevertheless, $20 million is a significant amount for the Florida governor, who has faced challenges such as a glitch-ridden campaign launch and high-profile controversies since announcing his candidacy six weeks ago.

During a podcast appearance with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren on Wednesday, DeSantis discussed an online campaign video that some members of his own party have criticized as homophobic. The video, which was released on the "DeSantis War Room" Twitter account, starts with clips of Trump addressing LGBTQ issues, including his support for transgender models in beauty pageants and his vow to protect LGBTQ citizens after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida.

However, the video abruptly shifts to images of DeSantis, interspersed with headlines highlighting his efforts as governor to limit gender-affirming healthcare, transgender rights, and drag performances. The video also juxtaposes the Florida governor with characters from popular culture known for their toughness, such as Cillian Murphy's gangster from the TV series "Peaky Blinders" and Leonardo DiCaprio's corrupt stockbroker from the film "The Wolf of Wall Street."

The video, released on the final day of June, drew immediate backlash, even from conservatives. The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization representing right-leaning LGBTQ voters, tweeted that Ron DeSantis's "extreme rhetoric" had ventured into homophobic territory and warned that his messaging could harm critical races across the nation.

The creators of "Peaky Blinders" also issued a statement, expressing disapproval of the video's use of their clips without permission or an official license.

During the interview with Lahren, DeSantis defended the video, stating that its purpose was to portray Donald Trump as a pioneer in popularizing gender ideology.

DeSantis faced further criticism on Thursday for publishing a list of driver's licenses no longer accepted in Florida. This announcement followed the enactment of several right-wing laws in Florida on July 1, which included the removal of permitting requirements for concealed carry and restrictions on teaching gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

The press release on Thursday emphasized one specific law that invalidated out-of-state driver's licenses issued to undocumented immigrants within Florida. Certain states, like Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, and Rhode Island, provide driver's licenses specifically designed for undocumented immigrants, indicating that they are not for federal identification and are only valid for driving purposes.

This policy is part of DeSantis's aggressive stance on immigration. In the press release, he touted the law as a crackdown on illegal immigration and criticized Democratic President Joe Biden for his handling of the "border crisis."

However, the Mexican government expressed concern about the law, suggesting it could lead to racial profiling among motorists and other individuals.

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