Trump-aligned super PAC bankrolls $6 million ad campaign attacking DeSantis

The expenditures come before DeSantis has even declared his candidacy.

April 24, 2023, 4:43 PM

A super PAC supporting former President Donald Trump has already spent more than $6 million on television ads attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, even before DeSantis has declared his presidential candidacy.

Since April, the super PAC -- Make America Great Again, Inc. -- has been launching a $1.5 million ad campaign every week.

The expenditures are described in the PAC's disclosure filings to the Federal Election Commission as media placements opposing "presidential candidate" DeSantis.

The latest ad from last week zeroed in on the Florida governor's past record of supporting cuts to social security and Medicare during his time in Congress. Other ads have focused on DeSantis' alleged eating habits and have claimed that DeSantis is "just not ready to be president."

Trump leads DeSantis in recent presidential polls and has continued to collect endorsements.

The Florida governor has himself has been fundraising across the country and traveling overseas to meet with foreign dignitaries, even while he has yet to declare his candidacy.

Asked Monday during his visit to Japan about trailing Trump in the polls, DeSantis said, "I'm not a candidate, so we'll see if and when that changes."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation 50th Anniversary Celebration leadership summit, April 21, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md.
Alex Brandon/AP, FILE

Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor and fundraiser who has previously supported and donated to Trump, told ABC News that the pro-Trump super PAC's anti-DeSantis ads are a "backhanded compliment that shows who he's afraid of" -- and that DeSantis needs to "punch back."

"I'm not so much anxious for him to declare -- I'm anxious for him to fight back," Eberhart, who is supporting DeSantis, said of the Florida governor.

"I think he runs the risk of how Obama defined Romney in the summer of 2012 because Romney didn't answer," Eberhard said, referencing the 2012 presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. "I think DeSantis is being defined by Trump and he has not answered, and you're seeing that hurting his poll numbers."

Over the past year, a number of major Republican donors have distanced themselves from Trump, saying they want a different face to lead the party. A number of them have thrown their support behind DeSantis, while others are waiting to see how the primary pool shapes up.

Despite that, the Make America Great Again super PAC boasts a massive war chest, having received more than $60 million through Trump's Save America PAC -- plus millions more from top Trump donors -- since the 2020 election.

DeSantis' top super PAC, Never Back Down, has raised $30 million -- but it's only spent a modest $36,000 on ad expenditures so far, according to its FEC disclosures.

As independent expenditure groups, Make America Great Again Inc. and Never Back Down are not allowed to make coordinated expenditures with the campaigns they support.