As the Aug. 23 Primary Election draws closer, the Republican candidates for Florida’s 1st Congressional District have launched new attack ads.
Mark Lombardo’s latest ad, entitled “The Informant,” suggests incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz does not have the backing of former President Donald Trump and questions whether Gaetz was the informant that led to the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“Does President Trump suspect that Matt Gaetz is the informant?” Lombardo asked in a statement. “Gaetz has a history of putting himself first and he reportedly has good reason to turn on Trump in order to keep himself out of jail. Remember, Gaetz asked Trump for a wide-ranging pardon. Trump said ‘no.’ Could Gaetz be out for revenge? Only Matt Gaetz and the FBI know the truth.”
The 30-second spot begins with images of Trump at rallies. A female narrator says, “When Donald Trump really endorses someone, he goes big.”
An illustration suggested to be Gaetz with no face covered by a question mark appears on the screen as the narrator says, “You’ve seen none of that from Matt Gaetz.”
She continues, “What does Trump know? Is Gaetz the informant?”
A flashing image of convicted child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein appears as the narrator says “Gaetz hired Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney.”
A still shot of a law enforcement agent flashes on the screen while the narrator says, “Another Epstein attorney approved the raid on Trump’s house.”
“Remember, Gaetz pressured Trump to give him a pardon but Trump said no,” the narrator says as the word “No” flashes over a photo of the Congressman.
“Matt Gaetz puts himself first, ahead of Trump and ahead of you,” she says. Footage of Lombardo meeting with voters is shown as the narrator closes the ad saying, “Vote for a leader who will put America first. Vote for Marine Mark Lombardo.”
The Gaetz campaign fired back, saying “President Trump has endorsed Congressman Gaetz, has praised him profusely as recently as 10 days ago at CPAC, and is sending his son Don Jr. to Pensacola to campaign for Gaetz. Mark Lombardo’s campaign lacks events, supporters, energy, and truthfulness. His defeat next Tuesday will leave him a million bucks poorer and rightfully humiliated.”
The Congressman’s campaign released its own ad focusing on Gaetz’s support from Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis. It begins with images of Gaetz with Trump and DeSantis as audio plays of DeSantis saying, “Congressman Gaetz here, who has been working very hard for the people of Northwest Florida. He’s going to be there every step of the way to support the people here.”
A clip of Trump speaking at CPAC rolls as the former President praises Gaetz, calling him “really courageous and a really great guy. He loves Florida. He loves the country. Matt Gaetz.”
A still shot of Trump and Gaetz appears as Trump says “He has an endorsement of me, 100% endorsement.”
The ad goes back to a clip of Trump speaking at CPAC as he says, “I’ll tell you, he’s always working and he does indeed fight for all of us. Freedom is what he fights for.”
Gaetz has maintained a strong fundraising lead over Lombardo, raising $188,821 between July 1 and Aug. 3 He spent $802,788 — including $526,000 on advertising.
Lombardo, who has poured $750,000 of his own money into his campaign, has released a series of attack ads against Gaetz over the summer.