GOP Candidates Plow Millions Into Iowa TV Ads With Less Than 6 Weeks Until Caucus

Austin Alonzo
By Austin Alonzo
December 6, 20232024 Elections
GOP Candidates Plow Millions Into Iowa TV Ads With Less Than 6 Weeks Until Caucus
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's 2023 Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 28, 2023. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)

With less than six weeks left before the GOP’s Iowa Caucus, leading candidates are investing millions to make their case to Hawkeye State voters.

According to an Epoch Times analysis of Federal Communications Commission disclosures released by broadcasters in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, and Mason City, Iowa, metro areas as well as Omaha, Nebraska, leading GOP candidates have spent more than $14.2 million on television ads that have aired or will air between November and the Jan. 15, 2024, Republican Party caucus.

The analysis included affiliates of the four major networks—ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC—in Iowa. Omaha was included because of its proximity to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Fight Right PAC

A newly formed PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis—Fight Right Inc.—spent about $1.2 million on an advertising campaign attacking Ms. Haley. The ads, scheduled to be screened in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City, showcase clips of Ms. Haley saying she was inspired to enter politics by former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

The Fight Right ad points viewers to a website questioning Ms. Haley’s record on social and political issues. The website says it’s paid for by the DeSantis campaign’s main committee, Ron DeSantis for President.

In an email to The Epoch Times, Ken Farnaso, the Haley campaign’s press secretary, said the Fight Right ads are a sign of a “desperate, losing candidate.”

“As Ron DeSantis drops in the polls, Nikki Haley has surged into second place in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina because voters know she is the best candidate to take on [President] Donald Trump and [President] Joe Biden,” Farnaso said.

According to its FEC filings, Fight Right is an unauthorized super PAC. A super PAC can solicit or make unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions, and other political committees, according to the regulatory agency.

Fight Right’s statement of organization was filed on Nov. 16. It has yet to file any documentation disclosing its fundraising activities. However, its latest independent expenditure report, filed on Nov. 30, said it had spent a total of $1.7 million to oppose Ms. Haley in Iowa.

The super PAC’s statement of organization lists a suburban Tallahassee, Florida, Staples Inc. store as its address. Listed as the treasurer is Kaylen Melton, according to his LinkedIn profile, a certified public accountant at the Crosby Ottenhoff Group in Bessemer, Alabama.

NTD Photo
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests during a campaign rally at the Thunderdome in Newton, Iowa on Dec. 2, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ron DeSantis

The Florida governor and the main super PAC supporting him—Never Back Down Inc.—continued to lead the way in overall spending in Iowa. Since The Epoch Times conducted its last Iowa analysis on Nov. 21, the DeSantis campaign and its allies have spent another $2 million on television ads.

Most of the ads are focused on the Des Moines stations. The state’s capital is the largest media market in Iowa. The DeSantis campaign also began to buy in Omaha, with more than $200,000 spent by Never Back Down to appear in ads to be aired through Dec. 10.

Mr. DeSantis completed a 99-county tour of Iowa on Dec. 2. He will return on Dec. 8 and 9 with stops in West Des Moines and Lakeside.

Nikki Haley

Ms. Haley and her main PAC—SFA Fund Inc.—spent about $1.5 million on ads that will air during the last six weeks of the Iowa race. In December, the Haley campaign will focus its spending on Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport.

SFA Fund is a hybrid PAC. This, according to the FEC, means it can solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions, and other political committees. It must maintain two bank accounts. One for independent spending on advertisements or voter drives and another for making direct contributions to federal candidates.

The former governor of South Carolina ended November on a high note with a rise in the national polls and endorsements from key fundraisers. Her campaign is positioning Ms. Haley as the leading alternative to President Trump. Ms. Haley will make an Iowa trip on Dec. 9 and 10 with planned stops in Sioux Center, Clear Lake, and Waukee.

The latest national polls, according to a compilation published by Real Clear, show Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley in close competition. The latest, published by Morning Consult on Dec. 5, gave Mr. DeSantis a 3 percent lead over Ms. Haley.

The most recent Iowa poll, conducted by Iowa State University and Civiqs in early November, also said Mr. DeSantis had a 3 percent advantage among likely caucusgoers.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Fort Dodge Senior High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa on Nov. 18, 2023. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

Donald Trump

Both nationally and in Iowa, Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley trail President Trump by a significant margin. The Morning Consult poll listed the top candidates as President Trump, with 66 percent support, Mr. DeSantis, with 13 percent, and Ms. Haley, with 10 percent. The Iowa State poll said 47 percent of likely Iowa Caucus voters support President Trump, 18 percent back Mr. DeSantis, and 12 percent endorse Ms. Haley.

The former president’s main committee, rather than his super PAC Make America Great Again Inc., is spending at a measured pace across Iowa.

Unlike its rivals, the Trump campaign is buying advertising time two weeks at a time. As of Dec. 5, Donald Trump for President 2024 Inc. bought ad time through Dec. 11 in every major Iowa market—and even tiny Mason City—as well as Omaha. No other candidate is spending to appear on television in the northern Iowa town with a U.S. Census Bureau-listed population of about 27,000.

All told, the Trump campaign spent more than $540,000 on television ads for the beginning of December.

President Trump is making numerous trips to Iowa ahead of the caucus date. He will hold a town hall in Davenport with Sean Hannity, host of Fox News’s “Hannity,” on Dec. 5. Trump buried the DeSantis campaign and attacked Ms. Haley during an Iowa swing on Dec. 2. He will return to Coralville on Dec. 13.

Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy continued his measured approach to Iowa spending with an additional round of two-week ad buys that will keep his message on air through Dec. 11. In total, his campaign—Vivek 2024—has spent about $793,000 on advertising from Nov. 4 through Dec. 11.

Mr. Ramaswamy, an outspoken critic of the RNC, made the fourth GOP presidential primary debate and will be on stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Dec. 6. He is campaigning hard in Iowa, too.

After the debate, Mr. Ramaswamy is scheduled to appear in Cresco, New Hampton, Charles City, Wapello, Muscatine, Clarence, DeWitt, Sibley, Primghar, and Cherokee between Dec. 7 and 9. He was in Iowa City on Dec. 2.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to skip Iowa. He is not spending in the state, nor is he currently scheduled to visit. Instead, he is focused on New Hampshire.

Polling in the Granite State indicates Mr. Christie is the third choice for likely voters there. The latest poll, conducted by the Washington Post and Monmouth University, placed his support at 11.3 percent. He trailed Ms. Haley and President Trump, who polled at 18.7 percent and 45.7 percent, respectively.

From The Epoch Times

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