Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Potential candidates for president in 2024 began running ads as early as early 2021, mostly on social media.
Among those advertising are Republicans Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo, and Democrat Gavin Newsom.
The ads have emphasized freedom — both promoting it and claiming that the opposing party is threatening it.
As distant as the 2024 contest might seem, former President Donald Trump and other potential contenders for the White House have already been running ads to raise or refresh their national profiles.
Some ads came during the final weeks of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Others have been running ads since 2021.
These ads, from four Republicans and one Democrat, share at least two themes: defending freedom and attacking the opposing party’s policies.
On the Republican side, Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of threats to freedom, such as restrictions on religious expression. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis invoked "Freedom Headquarters" as the setting for one of his TV spots; the ad focused on attacking the news media.
President Joe Biden said as recently as Nov. 9, "my intention is that I run again." His intentions may be one reason there is less activity on the Democratic side. But California Gov. Gavin Newsom has run ads with a national scope, claiming that DeSantis and other Republicans have attacked freedom by restricting abortion access.
The ads are concentrated more on social media than on television.
Facebook ads are much cheaper than broadcast ads and tend to be targeted to certain groups of people, said Kathleen Searles, a political communication professor at Louisiana State University.
"Part of what we’re seeing now with these early ads may be a sort of trial balloon, to see how much response candidates are receiving and what ads are getting better engagement," she said.
Advertising this far out from a presidential election usually introduces the candidates and aims to emphasize issues that will define them, Searles said.
"What is less typical is how negative these ads are" at this stage, Searles said.
Michael Cornfield, research director of the Global Center for Political Management at George Washington University, said presidential contenders seek four things in ads:
attention of a targeted audience;
credibility with respect to the office they seek;
to provide new information that aligns with the story they’re promoting;
to frame choices for voters.
Here’s a look at what potential contenders are saying, along with fact-checks of some of their points.
In August, Trump released a nearly four-minute-long ad decrying a failing nation and promising to return it to "greatness."
The video began with Trump’s voice saying over the sounds of a storm: "We are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation." Then, Trump is at a lectern, lamenting inflation, stock market losses and high energy costs.
"We are a nation that surrendered in Afghanistan," he said, and one that has "weaponized its law enforcement against the opposing political party."
The ad omits that Trump set the U.S. troop removal from Afghanistan in motion. Biden completed the withdrawal.
Republicans have claimed that Democrats used the FBI politically to "raid" Trump’s Florida home. However, the National Archives worked with Trump’s representatives since 2021 on the return of records he took from the White House, long before FBI agents served a warrant to search Trump’s home in August 2022.
Searles said Trump ran long videos during his previous presidential runs with a theme that "is very gloom and doom." Ads with "anger appeals" are effective in motivating voters, she said.
On Facebook and Instagram, Trump’s Save America political action committee has run ads promoting his rallies. The PAC has also run "live polls" that ask people whether they would vote for Trump. People responding to the polls are prompted to submit contact information for text and email messages from the committee.
Searles said that Trump’s campaigns have excelled with "nudge ads" that use contact information to solicit contributions.
In January, the Save America ads on Facebook implored: "Donate now to impeach Biden!" Clicking on the ad led to a donation page, but the page didn’t say how those funds would bring about an impeachment. Those ads were largely seen by people 65 years old and older, according to Facebook metrics.
In an ABC News interview that aired Nov. 14, Pence said he is giving "prayerful consideration" to running for president and said, "so be it," if both he and Trump decided to run.
Pence in April 2021 introduced his Advancing American Freedom advocacy group via ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Over images of Pence, a narrator said freedoms and the American dream "are in jeopardy." The narrator also said Pence will push policies to "fight for economic prosperity" and protect "our conservative values."
A three-minute ad on this theme shows a clip of Pence saying: "There is a cure for what ails America, and that is leadership committed to American freedom."
Pence in some ads warned that many in the "Democrat administration and Congress" are "willing to take away our freedom and cancel anyone that doesn’t stand in line." He criticized what he described as Democrats’ support of tax hikes and defunding the police.
Cornfield said Pence's "arguably heroic refusal to go along with the Jan. 6 insurrection plot" going unmentioned "is not surprising, since his primary audience consists of Republicans, a majority of whom embrace the election denial falsehood."
DeSantis easily won re-election to a second term Nov. 8. During the campaign, he wouldn’t commit to serving another four years in Florida.
Some of DeSantis’ ads portrayed him as tough. He released a nearly two-minute black-and-white video based on "So God Made a Farmer," a speech by the late radio broadcaster and conservative Paul Harvey.
The video began with the narrator saying: "And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a protector,’ so God made a fighter." The narrator repeated "so God made a fighter" over images of DeSantis. The ad alluded to DeSantis’ decision to keep Florida businesses and schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The black-and-white images "suggest authenticity and historic significance," Cornfield said. "Where the farmer keeps the farm going, DeSantis keeps Florida and, by implication, America going by tackling woke-ism head-on."
DeSantis’ campaign also launched a 60-second ad on TV and social media in which DeSantis wore a flight suit, evoking Tom Cruise in the "Top Gun" movies. The ad opened with text that tells viewers the ad is set in Florida, "Freedom Headquarters."
DeSantis in the ad talked about "taking on the corporate media." Clips show him at news conferences shutting down and lecturing reporters as they asked questions.
Ready for Ron, a political action committee seeking to draft DeSantis to run for president, in May released a TV ad that alternately showed speeches of DeSantis and Ronald Reagan, the late Republican president. Ready for Ron has also run ads on Facebook and Instagram urging people to sign a petition to get DeSantis to run for president.
Pompeo, who served as CIA director and then secretary of state in the Trump administration, has said he will decide by spring whether to run for president, whether Trump does.
Pompeo’s Champion American Values PAC in June ran an ad with Pompeo saying, "I’m Mike Pompeo, and this is who we are. Together, let’s make sure that our religious freedom, and our right to pray, are never canceled."
In one ad, Pompeo noted his own military service and alluded to political debate over gender identity issues.
"We have to walk away from this radical left ideology, we cannot let it penetrate our military. The fight is on," Pompeo said.
Cornfield said targeting the "radical left" as "the primary enemies of America is catnip for the Make America Great Again segment of the Republican electorate."
On Nov. 9, the day after the midterm elections, Pompeo started running ads on Facebook that attacked Democrats on inflation and border policies. The ads largely targeted states with early presidential voting contests, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Newsom in early November said "it's not my ambition" to run for president. But the California Democrat, who like DeSantis was on his way to winning re-election, ran ads addressing issues beyond his home state.
In an ad timed for the Fourth of July, Newsom assailed Florida Republicans. "Freedom? It’s under attack in your state," Newsom said, as images of DeSantis appeared. "Your Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors."
We found in reviewing an ad from another California Democrat, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, that a few Trump-supporting "MAGA Republicans," but not all Republicans, want women arrested for abortion.
Newsom this summer attacked GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with newspaper ads that criticized Texas’ abortion ban.
Newsom ran social media ads nationally criticizing "bullies intent on taking away your freedoms." In one ad, which ran in California, Florida, Texas and other states, Newsom identifies DeSantis and Abbott as the bullies.
Newsom "was essentially flexing, demonstrating his potential strength as a leader of a post-Biden Democratic Party," Cornfield said.
The Hill, "Five independent candidates most likely to run in 2024," Oct. 1, 2022
Washington Post, "The top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024, ranked," Aug. 20, 2022
Washington Post, "The top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024, ranked," Oct. 15, 2022
OpenSecrets, "Possible presidential contenders raise over $591 million while waiting to declare candidacy," Sept. 15, 2022
USA Today, "In 2022 midterms, Trump and possible GOP rivals test the waters for 2024 presidential race," Oct. 17, 2022
Yahoo News, "Exclusive: Dem opposition group targets wide field of 21 Republicans for '24 battle," Oct. 24, 2022
Politico, "The non-Trump 2024 field starts to make their moves," Oct. 25, 2022
The Hill, "Potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates race to top best-seller lists," Oct. 23, 2022
Twitter, Casey DeSantis tweet, Nov. 4, 2022
YouTube, Ron DeSantis "Top Gov Ron DeSantis" ad, Aug. 22, 2022
New York Daily News, "See Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis invoke ‘Top Gun’ in campaign ad," Aug 23, 2022
Google Ad Transparency, Friends of Ron DeSantis ads, accessed Nov. 8, 2022
Google Ad Transparency, Friends of Ron DeSantis "Biden’s buses" ad, Aug. 31 to Nov. 8, 2022
Google Ad Transparency, Friends of Ron DeSantis gas prices ad, June 30 to Nov. 7, 2022
Meta, Friends of Ron DeSantis George Soros ad, started running Oct. 10, 2022
YouTube, Ready for Ron "In Our Time" ad, May 20, 2022
Meta, Ready for Ron ads, accessed Nov. 8, 2022
Reuters, "Why a wave of social media ads may signal a potential DeSantis White House run," July 7, 2022
YouTube, Advancing American Freedom "Clueless" ad, April 19, 2022
YouTube, Advancing American Freedom "Horrific Decision" ad, March 7, 2022
Advancing American Freedom, "Advancing American Freedom Launches Third Phase of $10 Million Ad Campaign Urging a Return to American Energy Independence & Dominance," April 18, 2022
Advancing American Freedom, "Advancing American Freedom Launches All-Spanish-Language Ad Buy," May 11, 2022
Advancing American Freedom, "Advancing American Freedom Launches Iowa Ad Buy," Aug. 30 2022
YouTube, Advancing American Freedom "The Cure" ad, Oct. 5, 2022
New York Times, "Pence and His Group, Pushing Conservative Causes, Keep a 2024 Dream Alive," Oct. 4, 2022
Meta, Advancing American Freedom life ad, Aug. 2 to 24, 2022
Meta, Advancing American Freedom donations ad, May 31 to June 9, 2022
Meta, Advancing American Freedom taxes ad, Oct. 8 to 25, 2021
Meta, Advancing American Freedom Israel ad, May 18 to 29, 2021
Meta, Advancing American Freedom Israel ad, May 18 to 28, 2021
Meta, Advancing American Freedom introduction ads, April to May, 2021
Google Ad Transparency, Advancing American Freedom donations ad, July 29 to Aug. 4, 2021
Truth Social, Donald Trump post, Aug. 8, 2022
Google Ad Transparency, Save America ads, accessed Nov. 6, 2022
Washington Post Fact Checker, "Fact-checking Trump’s new campaign-style video," Aug. 10, 2022
Meta, Save America search of ad library, Nov. 4, 2022
Meta, Save America "Mar-a-Lago raided" ad, Aug. 11 to 14, 2022
Meta, Save America "These are dark times" ad, Aug. 12 to 14, 2022
Meta, Save America "Impeach Biden" ad, Jan. 19 to 25, 2022
Meta, Save America "Impeach Biden" ad (variation), Jan. 19 to 25, 2022
YouTube, CAVFUND "The Fight Is On" ad, Sept. 27, 2022
YouTube, CAVFUND "Military Pride" ad, Sept. 27, 2022
YouTube, CAVFUND "Keep Woke Ideology Out of the Military," Sept. 27, 2022
YouTube, CAVPAC "This Is Who We Are" ad, June 24, 2022
Meta, Champion American Values PAC "flip the Senate" ad, started running Oct. 26, 2022
Meta, Champion American Values PAC "battleground races" ad, started running Oct. 26, 2022
Meta, Champion American Values PAC inflation ad, started running Nov. 9, 2022
Meta, Champion American Values PAC borders ad, started running Nov. 9, 2022
Twitter, Gavin Newsom tweet, July 3, 2022
NBC News, "California Gov. Gavin Newsom goes after Abbott in Texas on guns and abortion," July 22, 2022
KERA News, "California Governor runs ads in Texas calling out Gov. Abbott on guns and abortion laws," July 22, 2022
Washington Post, "Calif. governor rents billboards in red states to tout abortion access," Sept. 15, 2022
Google Ad Transparency, Newsom for California Governor 2022 "Fight extreme Republicans" ad, Oct. 26 to Nov. 8, 2022
Meta, Newsom for California Governor 2022 "bullies" ad, started running Oct. 26, 2022
PolitiFact, "Posts falsely say Joe Biden broke with Donald Trump on Afghanistan withdrawal," Oct. 28, 2021
PolitiFact, "‘All they had to do was ask,’ said Trump: A timeline of efforts to retrieve presidential records," Aug. 25, 2022
PolitiFact, "Ad Watch: Do ‘MAGA Republicans want women arrested for abortion'? A few do, but not all," Oct. 25, 2022
Rep. Mike Rogers, "Rogers: Biden Admin Weaponized Law Enforcement Against President Trump," Aug. 9, 2022
Email, Kathleen Searles, political communication professor at Louisiana State University, Nov. 10, 2022
Email, Michael Cornfield, research director of the Global Center for Political Management at George Washington University, Nov. 11, 2022
YouTube, ABC News interview of Mike Pence, (11:00) Nov. 14, 2022