The United States presidential campaign of Republican Ron DeSantis has pulled in an estimated $20m in fundraising since the Florida governor launched his bid in late May.
The disclosure comes as candidates in the 2024 race file their financial disclosures for the second quarter of the year with the Federal Election Commission.
DeSantis’s $20m haul falls short of the estimated $35m that his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump, reportedly raised in the same quarter.
But it is nevertheless a sizable sum for the Florida governor, who has had to contend with a glitch-filled campaign launch and high-profile controversies during the six weeks since he announced his candidacy.
On Wednesday, DeSantis appeared on a podcast with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren to discuss an online campaign video that some in his own party have called homophobic.
The cartoonishly styled video — which appeared on the “DeSantis War Room” Twitter account — begins with a montage of Trump from speeches and media appearances he made addressing LGBTQ issues.
In one clip, he affirms that transgender models can participate in his beauty pageants. In another, he is seen vowing to “protect LGBTQ citizens” in the wake of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida.
But then the video abruptly switches to images of DeSantis, intercut with headlines from his efforts as governor to limit gender-affirming healthcare, transgender rights and drag performances.
The segment also juxtaposes the Florida governor with tough-guy pop-culture characters like actor Cillian Murphy’s gangster in the TV series Peaky Blinders and Leonardo DiCaprio’s corrupt stockbroker from the film The Wolf of Wall Street.
The video — released on the last day of June, at the end of the annual LGBTQ celebration of Pride Month — provoked immediate backlash, even among conservatives.
Ron DeSantis’s “extreme rhetoric” has “just ventured into homophobic territory”, tweeted the group Log Cabin Republicans, which represents right-leaning LGBTQ voters. It added that DeSantis’s messaging “will lose hard-fought gains in critical races across the nation”.
The team behind the Peaky Blinders also issued a statement, saying the use of its clips was done “without permission or official licence”.
“We do not support nor endorse the video’s narrative and strongly disapprove of the use of the content in this manner,” the show’s creator, star and production teams said in a joint statement.
But in Wednesday’s interview with Lahren, DeSantis said the message of the video was to identify “Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream”.
DeSantis also faced backlash on Thursday for a list his administration published of driver’s licences no longer accepted in the state of Florida.
The announcement comes in the wake of a suite of laws that went into effect in Florida on July 1, furthering DeSantis’s right-wing priorities.
They included a measure to remove permitting requirements for the concealed carry of firearms and restrictions on teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in school. (AlJazeera)