A political action committee best known for backing teen-touching Alabama Judge Roy Moore in the 2017 GOP U.S. Senate primary is running radio ads in New Hampshire and Iowa targeting 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley and touting potential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)
The ad, produced and paid for by Courage Conservatives PAC, says former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Haley “did nothing as a governor but demolish Confederate memorials,” dismissing her as “a ‘woke’ empty suit who looks good on TV.”
While the PAC isn’t affiliated with the DeSantis campaign, most of the ad — and much of the messaging on their social media pages – – touts the Florida governor’s record, The ad even takes a passing shot at former President Donald Trump.
“Ron DeSantis: Always putting freedom first. Undoing the Trump lockdowns. Taking on Fauci’s vaccine passports,” the ad says.
The Courageous Conservatives PAC hasn’t been shy about attacking Trump in the past. It backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 presidential primary and ran ads featuring Trump calling his endorsement of Alabama U.S. Senator Luther Strange against Judge Moore “a mistake.”
“We’re drawing a contrast between two governors, one with a record of moving the ball for freedom, and the other one is a woke empty suit who started Cancel Culture in America,” Rick Shaftan with Courageous Conservatives told NHJournal.
A source close to the DeSantis campaign confirmed on backgr0und there is “no connection at all” between the Florida governor and this ad or its funding.
The reference to Confederate monuments in an ad for New Hampshire Republicans strikes some GOP pros as odd, but it fits in with Shaftan’s brand of campaigning. He has been an outspoken defender of Confederate imagery and icons, even claiming Black Americans don’t have an issue with them — just White liberals.
“Black people didn’t have a problem with the #RebelXFlag or Confederate Statues until wealthy white people told them they did. #SlipperySlope,” he tweeted in 2017. Shaftan has also called the NAACP “the black KKK, only more violent and dangerous,” and after the riots in Ferguson, Mo. said, “Only a fool would start, finance or insure a business in a black neighborhood.”
The anti-Haley ad Shaftan’s group is currently running on news and talk radio in the Granite State isn’t likely to move the political needle among local Republicans, said veteran GOP strategist Michael Dennehy.
“I don’t know what their goal is, but if it’s to help DeSantis, I don’t think they’re going to achieve it.”
In fact, because the ad is easily mistaken to be from a DeSantis campaign (he hasn’t entered the 2024 race), it could actually do the Florida governor more harm than good.
According to reports, DeSantis plans to bring his book tour to the Granite State shortly, though no dates have been announced. And there aren’t any DeSantis campaign staffers openly operating in New Hampshire, either.
However, there are DeSantis fans among the local GOP, including former state party vice chair Pamela Tucker, who has been working with the “Ron to the Rescue” PAC to encourage him to enter the race.
“Republican voters want someone who can win with positive Republican policies,” Tucker said. “Gov. DeSantis can win the primary here. He has the name recognition and people support his policies out of Florida.”