A political action committee to get former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to run for president is making its launch with an ad that praises him for mocking “woke nonsense” — and is aiming to pull the GOP presidential field to the right.
The Draft Tucker PAC, a hybrid PAC that filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in late April shortly after Carlson was ousted from Fox News, debuted an ad on Thursday evening that is set for an initial weeklong ad on the conservative Newsmax cable channel next week.
“Republicans need a new leader, and Tucker Carlson is ready to lead,” the ad says. “No one in America is more articulate and pins down leftists in both parties better than Tucker.”
It compares the former Fox News host to the late radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“Tucker Carlson is witty, sharp, and mocks woke nonsense,” the ad says. “Tucker will whip Biden in a debate.”
Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
Chris Ekstrom, a former Texas congressional candidate and GOP donor, is the PAC’s chairman and a financial backer of it.
Ekstrom said he knows Carlson “vaguely,” and that he was approached about forming the PAC prior to Carlson being terminated by Fox News, but thought it was not feasible if he was still a primetime host. But with that concern now gone, he thinks a Carlson presidential run is a “realistic opportunity.” He finds neither former President Trump nor Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “fully satisfactory.”
“I’m very concerned that they’re going to not move the debate as far right as it ought to be,” Ekstrom said. “If Tucker Carlson entered the race in a reasonable amount of time and just continued in the same territory that he was covering at Fox, I think that’d be a rude awakening for both President Trump and Governor DeSantis.”
Charlie Kolean, a GOP political consultant who is working as the PAC’s executive director, thinks voter enthusiasm for Carlson can also influence the rest of the primary field.
“I think it will move the conversation to the right, just in a macro way, with candidates taking more solid stances rather than being like a moderate Republican,” Kolean told The Hill.
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Carlson has repeatedly dismissed the idea of a White House run, saying in 2021 that he could do it if he was “the last person on earth” and joking about a run earlier this month, telling an Insider reporter that he would announce a presidential run in New Hampshire before saying: “Totally kidding. Sorry.”
But that has not kept his fans from urging him to make the jump.
Republican presidential candidate and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy said when Carlson was ousted from Fox News that he would make “a good addition to the race.”
A source close to Carlson sharply criticized the PAC effort.
“Tucker is not running for president. He’s said that repeatedly on the record. Whoever is running this group is trying to make a quick buck and should be ashamed. No one should donate to this PAC,” the source said.
But Ekstrom aimed to beat down skepticism of the effort.
“Thia isn’t some kind of scam PAC or grift. I hate that. That is something that I’ve always tried to oppose,” Ekstrom said.
“All the money is spent on the fight with me,” Ekstrom said, adding that he hopes a groundswell of “organic support” will push the former Fox News host to take a serious look at what would be needed to run in the first primary contests and then make a decision.
Kolean said that even if Carlson is not seriously considering a presidential run right now, the recruitment campaign makes sense for those who want to see him as a candidate. He noted former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson launched a 2016 run despite previously saying he had no desire to do so after a well-funded Draft Ben Carson super PAC formed.
Ekstrom said he thinks Carlson has been “testing the water for quite a while,” including speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in 2022, an event that traditionally has been a stop for potential presidential candidates.
Kolean said the PAC is “exceptionally well-funded,” and that it will “easily” spend at least $150,000 just building name recognition alone. The group aims to sponsor polls and expand to radio and digital ads. Its yet-to-be-announced board will be made up of “major conservatives.”
“I can tell you that money is not going to be a problem,” Ekstrom said.