(LifeSiteNews) — Former Trump administration Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and supporter of Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign Ric Grenell accused the former president’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, of running a “homophobic” campaign this week.
Grenell appeared on Megyn Kelly’s podcast on Thursday, where he raised a video that DeSantis’s campaign shared on X/Twitter in June (since deleted by its original uploader), which contrasted Trump’s past embraces of LGBT flags and causes with DeSantis’s conservative stances. The Trump campaign panned the move as “desperate” at the time, while DeSantis called it “totally fair game” to “identif[y] Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream.”
“I’ve worked way too hard in my career to allow a presidential candidate to dial us back like that. I believe that Ron DeSantis ruined his chances for 2028,” Grenell, who called the video “insanely homophobic” at the time, reiterated to Kelly this week.
“Nobody wants to see a homophobic take over the Republican Party again. And I know I’m gonna get attacked for this, but the reality is, is that he was wrong. I’m not going to sit back and allow this migration, and thank God for Donald Trump and Melania Trump, who also are not going to let us go there.”
“What he did in that video was completely homophobic, terrible dialing us back, and he lost a lot of suburban women,” Grenell said.
“We have to have a society where we allow adults to live their lives as long as you’re not hurting somebody else. And so I think that that’s the policy that President Trump absolutely had in his last administration. And he is showing to be somebody who is not taking the bait on these radical policies,” Grenell continued.
Kelly responded that the video “overall seemed aimed at the trans community,” and “when I look at his actual policies, I don’t see anti-gay. I mean, I see somebody’s trying, like you said, to try to protect children from having this stuff come into the classroom agendas, which I think you agree with.”
She asked him for an example of “a policy that he’s pushed that you think is a problem or radical.” After briefly attempting to steer the conversation back to political popularity, Grenell admitted that he had none: “I’m not in Florida, so I’m not going to be able to give you any specific Florida policies.”
Trump has a mixed history on LGBT issues, starting with his status as a mainstream celebrity and conventional liberal New Yorker before his entry into Republican politics. In 2012, as the owner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant, Trump repeatedly endorsed the inclusion of “transgender women,” i.e. males, in competition with actual women, in the name of what the Trump Organization called “modernized” rules at the time, eliciting praise from LGBT pressure group GLAAD.
While running for president in 2016, Trump criticized a North Carolina law banning male students from female restrooms and said that anyone should be allowed to “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” By the time he was in office, he flipped on the issue, rejecting Obama-era guidelines on the subject and announcing that the Department of Education would no longer indulge bathroom-related “discrimination” complaints.
A supporter of same-sex “marriage,” Trump nominated a variety of pro-LGBT officials to various government posts and judicial vacancies and continued some Obama-era LGBT policies, such as an executive order on “gender identity nondiscrimination” and U.S. support for recognition of homosexual relations at the United Nations Human Rights Council. His campaign actively courted LGBT voters with rainbow merchandise.
At the same time, Trump prioritized religious liberty and was generally aligned with social conservatives against the gender-fluidity movement, from banning gender-confused soldiers from the military to protecting women from having to share close quarters such as homeless shelters with men claiming to be transgendered. His White House also opposed the so-called “Equality Act” and maintained a biological definition of sex in its implementation of federal laws and regulations.
While running for reelection, Trump has pledged to “protect children from left-wing gender insanity,” including by banning federal funding, approval, and promotion of “gender transition” practices. In December, however, he hosted a gala for the Log Cabin Republicans at his Mar-a-Lago resort home, where he declared, “we are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard. With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible.”
Many at the event reportedly celebrated Democrat President Joe Biden’s signing of the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” which forces all 50 states to recognize homosexual unions as “marriage,” though Trump himself did not mention the law in his remarks.
Grenell, who is “married” to another man, has been a vocal proponent of moving the Republican Party leftward on homosexuality, from crediting “MAGA Republicans” for the “first openly gay Cabinet official” (himself) and other “historic gay appointments,” to attacking other Republicans for wanting to “roll it [marriage redefinition] back” by opposing the Respect for Marriage Act, to condemning those who criticized Log Cabin Republicans as not being “respectful” or “welcoming” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
DeSantis, meanwhile, is campaigning in large part on his record of opposing the LGBT agenda, such as banning “gender transition” procedures for minors, defunding “diversity” initiatives in education, keeping pro-LGBT sexual indoctrination out of public schools, keeping minors out of drag shows, and stopping state pension funds from being used to incentivize corporate involvement in “woke” causes.
These comparative records do not yet seem to have significantly impacted the primary race. Former President Trump maintains a commanding lead for the nomination, even as grave questions persist as to whether he can defeat Biden in a rematch. Primary voting begins next January with the Iowa caucuses, where DeSantis supporters hope the governor’s ground operation will deliver a victory that reverses the trajectory of the nomination battle.