GOP hopefuls hit the airwaves, but outside groups still dominate

Two GOP presidential candidates launched new TV ads on Thursday, but candidates are largely still depending on outside groups to shoulder the bulk of the ad spending. 

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley launched her first TV ad of the 2024 race, calling for “a new generation of conservative leadership.” 

Haley does not name former President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden in the spot, but she makes a veiled reference to them by saying, “We have to leave behind the chaos and drama of the past and strengthen our country, our pride, and our purpose,” per NBC’s Greg Hyatt. 

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also launched a new TV ad on Thursday in Iowa and New, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact. The 30-second spot features Ramaswamy’s former piano teacher, who said she taught Ramaswamy about the Constitution after his lessons, and likened Ramaswamy to Trump and former President Ronald Reagan. 

Even as candidates ramp up their own ad spending, outside groups continue to dominate the airwaves, with Haley and Florida Gov. DeSantis particularly relying on outside groups as they take on Trump, per the Associated Press.

In other campaign news …

West campaign still growing: In an interview with NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald and Alex Tabet, independent presidential candidate Cornel West acknowledged that his campaign is “still in the embryonic stage,” noting he doesn’t want the campaign to “peak too soon.”

DeSantis’ struggles: The Washington Post details Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign challenges, including internal drama and a struggle to win over Trump supporters who are still enthusiastic about the former president. 

Ramaswamy lashes out: NBC’s Alex Tabet and Jillian Frankel detail entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s recent attacks on Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds and New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, the governors of the two first states in the GOP presidential nominating process.

Debatable: The Republican National Committee is weighing allowing presidential candidates to participate in “unsanctioned” debates, per the Washington Post. 

No Democratic primary in the Sunshine State: Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who is mounting a longshot primary bid against President Joe Biden, was “enraged” Thursday after Florida Democrats only submitted Biden’s name as a candidate for nomination, effectively canceling the Democratic presidential primary there, Politico reports.

Speaking of Phillips: The Trump campaign believes the pro-Philips super PAC’s ads knocking Biden could give Trump a boost in New Hampshire since the ads note Trump’s strength against Biden in a general election, per Politico. 

Trump talk: In former President Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial, an appeals court on Thursday reinstated a gag order preventing Trump and his attorneys from publicly talking about court staff. And, in the same trial, a financial watchdog informed the court that the defendants had violated a requirement to report any cash transfers amounting to more than $5 million.

No Labels, no in-person convention: No Labels, a group weighing a third-party presidential bid next year, will no longer host an in-person nominating convention in Dallas next year, opting instead for a virtual convention, Axios reports.

Party problems: Florida Republican Party Chairman Christian Ziegler is under criminal investigation for allegations related to sexual battery, NBC’s Matt Dixon reports.