Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis is leaning into his military background amid a staffing shakeup that has sparked speculation around his campaign.
The Florida governor’s campaign released a digital ad Wednesday highlighting his background as a Navy officer who earned a bronze star after serving in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) in Iraq.
“When our country was under attack, Ron DeSantis fought back,” a narrator says in the video.
“Ron DeSantis embodies service over self,” the narrator continues. “And the father of three young children – he understands the importance of the fights ahead and why we must never back down. Ron DeSantis – the fighter we need as President.”
DeSantis is currently the only Republican running for president who has served in the military.
The Republican unveiled his “Mission First” military policy in South Carolina last month, promising to “rip the woke out of the military and return it to its core mission.”
“There was no greater honor than knowing I was wearing the cloth of my country when I served in the military, but our nation’s once-proud fighting force has been infected and paralyzed by a political agenda,” the governor said in a July 18 statement. “We must restore a sense of confidence, conviction, and patriotic duty to our institutions — and that begins with our military.”
The plan says DeSantis, as president, will end all Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) hirings, Critical Race Theory-based trainings, and the like, as well as elevate warfighting and readiness as the top priority across the military.
The video comes one day after DeSantis replaced campaign manager Generra Peck with a trusted political adviser who has worked with him for years but has little campaign experience.
DeSantis handed the role over to James Uthmeier on Tuesday, pulling the staffer up from his original position as chief of staff to the DeSantis’ gubernatorial office. The change, confirmed by Fox News Digital, is the latest in a weekslong “reload” of the DeSantis campaign amid disappointing poll numbers in the 2024 GOP primary race.
Critics have pointed to the recent staff shakeups as evidence of a collapsing campaign, but Uthmeier argued that DeSantis still “knows how to win.”
The DeSantis campaign late last month told top financial contributors that a “reset” was underway. DeSantis officials acknowledged during a meeting with leading campaign donors and bundlers that they spent too much money since DeSantis launched his White House bid.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.