The Florida governor has spent much of the summer harnessing his campaign to restart “Top Gun: Maverick.” But to a bunch of critics, it sounded more like “Flop Gun.”
A new Lincoln Project 30-second spot, titled “Posing,” unfavorably compares DeSantis to the leaders of old and their wartime efforts, using the Governor’s final tribute (“High government“) to Tom Cruise film as a hook, with which they skewer the central concept of advertising.
“Republican leaders, bold men who took flight in the service of America,” begins the voiceover, which praises the former president’s wartime efforts George H. W. Bush and former U.S. senator. John McCainbefore presenting DeSantis as an unfavorable comparison.
“‘Top Gun’ Ron DeSantis stole this,” the ad reads, showing a photo of a desk, an apparent allusion to his legal work in the military.
“Top Gun? This guy? Ron DeSantis is no maverick,” the narrator concludes. “He’s just a poser.”
The DeSantis announcement was launched on primary day, a move designed to sync with the summer blockbuster’s streaming release, as he told a national audience this week on Fox and Friends.
“So we dated the Top Gov when the movie came out,” DeSantis explained. “The merchandise performed very well. Now, because it’s streaming today, we thought there would be more interest. So I thought, ‘How could we do that?’
The ad shows DeSantis explaining the art of “air combat” with “the corporate media,” with spliced-in footage of DeSantis bashing TV reporters as well as shots of the governor in a flight suit.
Comparisons of the visual’s ultimate effect have varied, with many critics of DeSantis drawing unfavorable comparisons to the 1988 Democratic presidential candidate. Michael Dukakiswho did a photo shoot in a tank with a military helmet before his defeat by Bush later that year.
DeSantis co-scored around “Top Gun: Maverick“all summer, offering various assertions about the world that he somehow found a way to relate to the film.
DeSantis, appearing on the August 13 episode of Glenn Beck Showlambasted the MoD for failing to meet film standards.
“I’m taking my son to watch ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ right? And you’re proud to see the pilots and all that. So in real life, what does the Navy do? They focus on pronouns and all that other stuff, that woke garbage, while China laughs at us,” DeSantis lamented.
He even praised the film before seeing it.
“I want to see him at some point. I think it’s just, you know, it’s like any movie that’s not, like, massively woke can actually appeal to normal people,” DeSantis said on June 9.
Later that monthDeSantis invoked the film by saying he was not probing.
“Too many politicians, they are paralyzed by these polls,” he continued. “A leader must understand where ‘true north’ is. You know, have you seen ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘? The navy, like, we always know where true north is. … These ships are out there, you have these planes landing on the aircraft carrier, the jets,” DeSantis said, calling their efforts “really impressive” in remarks to the Boys State Program.
For DeSantis, the brand synergy offered a handy narrative hook, even if it’s one that the new ad calls into question.
DeSantis was a US Navy JAG officer deployed in the Global War on Terror as an advisor to a US Navy SEAL Commander in support of the SEAL mission in Iraq, where DeSantis earned a star bronze.
See the new Lincoln Project spot below.