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FIRST ON FOX: The issue of illegal immigration is front and center in the latest ad by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign.
The spot – which is running statewide in Florida on TV and digital starting on Monday – comes as Florida’s governor has grabbed national headlines over the past week by flying Venezuelan migrants to the progressive bastion of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
“My child was killed by someone who should not have been here. This is what happens when we have open borders,” Jacksonville, Florida resident Kiyan Michael says at the top of the 60-second ad, which was shared first with Fox News.
Michael’s middle son, Brandon, died in an auto accident after being hit by a twice-deported illegal immigrant.
“We were able to go and meet with Governor DeSantis. He said I want to hear your son’s story. To see the compassion in his eyes and I saw the concern. He wanted to make sure other lives were protected.”
Michael then praises DeSantis, stressing that “he not only talks a good talk, but he walks it…There’s no greater leader than Governor DeSantis because he didn’t just listen. He put action behind it.”
Michael, a Navy veteran, is running for state representative this year and is endorsed by DeSantis.
The DeSantis campaign tells Fox News the spot will run on TV and digital and is backed by a significant ad buy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as he arrives for a press conference to announce expanded toll relief for Florida commuters, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
DeSantis was a three-term congressman when he was narrowly elected Florida governor in 2018. As he runs for a second four-year term steering Florida, he is being challenged by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor turned Democratic congressman. DeSantis enjoys a mid-single digit lead over Crist in the most recent public opinion polls, and a massive fundraising advantage.
DeSantis popularity among conservatives in Florida and across the country has soared the past two and a half years, courtesy of his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture wars warrior.
When it comes to the combustible issues of border security and immigration, DeSantis banned sanctuary cities in the Sunshine State and has required the state and local governments to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Last year, the governor deployed state law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border after calls by the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona for assistance.
Illegal immigrants arrive at Martha’s Vineyard Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (Video obtained by Fox News)
DeSantis, a young and very high-profile governor of large state who has a knack for grabbing national attention and firing up the Republican base, ignited outrage among Democrats with his move to fly the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
However, the relocation of the migrants by DeSantis, whom political pundits view as a potential 2024 Republican presidential contender, once again spotlighted the issues of illegal immigration and border security, which not only fires up the GOP base, but also connects with independent voters who may be frustrated with the Biden administration efforts in handling the surge in border crossings into the U.S. over the past year and a half.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.