Donald Trump Ad Against DeSantis: A Closer Look

Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, has always been known for his brash and unconventional style. His political campaign strategies have often been scrutinized and debated. One such campaign strategy that garnered attention was his ad against Ron DeSantis, then-Republican candidate for Governor of Florida. This blog post aims to delve into the details of this controversial ad and analyze its impact on the Florida gubernatorial race.

The Ad: A Brief Overview

The ad, titled “Tough as Nails,” was released by the Trump campaign in the run-up to the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. It opens with a dramatic voiceover declaring, “Ron DeSantis. He’s a fighter. He’s tough as Florida.” The ad then proceeds to showcase clips of a young DeSantis working out, wearing military gear, and firing a gun. The voiceover continues, emphasizing DeSantis’ support for Trump’s policies and his dedication to securing the borders.

While the ad does highlight DeSantis’ military background and his commitment to conservative values, it also draws on Trump’s own popularity and strong persona. The underlying message is clear: DeSantis is a tough, pro-Trump candidate who will protect Florida’s interests.

Strategic Intentions

Trump’s ad against DeSantis serves multiple strategic intentions. Firstly, it aimed to leverage Trump’s own popularity and capitalize on his strong base of supporters in Florida. By portraying DeSantis as a loyal and reliable ally of Trump, the ad sought to galvanize Trump’s voter base and rally them behind DeSantis.

Secondly, the ad aimed to highlight DeSantis’ military background, emphasizing his toughness and commitment to conservative values. In doing so, the ad sought to capture the attention and support of conservative voters who highly value national security and a robust defense policy.

Lastly, the ad strategically targeted Florida voters who prioritize Trump’s policies, particularly those related to immigration and border security. By highlighting DeSantis’ alignment with Trump on these issues, the ad sought to appeal to voters who saw Trump’s policies as crucial for the state’s well-being.

Impact and Controversy

The Trump ad against DeSantis generated significant buzz and controversy during the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. Supporters lauded it for effectively harnessing Trump’s charisma and message, while critics accused it of relying on fearmongering and appealing to a divisive political agenda.

Some argue that the ad helped propel DeSantis to victory in the Republican primary, as it solidified his position as a staunch Trump supporter. It resonated strongly with Trump’s fervent base in Florida and helped DeSantis establish a clear differentiation from his primary opponents.

However, critics claimed the ad employed thinly veiled racist undertones by associating DeSantis’ stance on immigration with Trump’s controversial rhetoric and policies. This accusation further escalated the ad’s controversy and ignited discussions about the role of race in political campaigns.

Analyzing the Strategy

Trump’s ad against DeSantis can be analyzed through the lens of persuasive communication. It effectively employed rhetorical devices such as pathos, appealing to emotions, and ethos, leveraging Trump’s credibility and authority.

The ad’s use of emotional music, powerful imagery, and a compelling voiceover aimed to evoke a sense of patriotism, strength, and security. By associating these feelings with DeSantis, the ad sought to influence viewers’ emotional responses and build trust in his character.

The ad also relied on the credibility and authority of Trump as a successful businessman and former president. By aligning DeSantis with Trump, the ad aimed to transfer Trump’s positive attributes onto DeSantis and establish him as a worthy successor.


The Trump ad against DeSantis was a strategic move aimed at leveraging Trump’s popularity and rallying support for DeSantis. By highlighting DeSantis’ military background, conservative values, and alignment with Trump’s policies, the ad aimed to capture the attention of conservative voters and Trump loyalists.

While the ad proved effective in securing DeSantis’ victory in the Republican primary, it also generated controversy due to its alleged use of racist undertones. It ignited discussions about the role of race in political campaigns and the ethical boundaries of persuasive communication.

Ultimately, the ad serves as a case study of the powerful impact that well-executed political advertisements can have on shaping public opinion and influencing voter behavior.


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