Club for Growth takes a swing at Trump over Social Security benefits

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The conservative Club for Growth group is airing a new ad that tees up attacks on former President Donald Trump's stances on Social Security, as his golf course in Washington D.C. hosts the LIV golf tour this weekend.

The ad, first shared with CBS News, is from the group's issue advocacy wing and is a five-digit buy that will air Saturday and Sunday on the CW channel in the D.C. market, which is carrying the tournament. The CW network is partially owned by CBS parent company Paramount Global. It will also be appearing digitally and is geofenced around the course.

The spot criticizes Trump's stance on reforming Social Security, comparing it to President Joe Biden's stance — both have said they won't touch it, even though the Social Security trust fund is projected to run out of money in the next decade if nothing is done to extend it. The ad refers to a Social Security trust fund trustee board report that says benefits for seniors could be slashed by 23% after 2033, if the trust fund is depleted.

"With Donald Trump, it's par for the course. Another plan that cheats people out of what they earned," the ad's narrator says.

Entitlement reforms, and where politicians stand on the issue, have become a frequent topic for the field of declared and aspiring Republican presidential contenders. While there are a couple past instances when Trump suggested he'd look at cutting entitlements, he has since said he would leave the entitlement programs alone and claimed in March that "under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security."

This election cycle, Trump has used the issue to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who declared his candidacy Wednesday and has voted for budget proposals as a congressman that would raise the retirement age and create commissions to evaluate reforms. As a candidate in 2012, DeSantis showed support in an interview for "restructuring" Social Security "in a way that's going to be financially sustainable."

"He wanted to decimate it and voted against it three times," Trump said in a speech in Davenport, Iowa in March. "I will not be cutting Medicare and I will not be cutting Social Security."

In the Trump campaign's reaction to the ad, they continue to go after DeSantis, noting his glitch-filled announcement on Twitter Spaces.

"Rookie mistakes and unforced errors— that's who DeSantis is and he's fumbling around to find a way to salvage his dying campaign. So now his political benefactor is trying to gaslight voters and blatantly lie in order to manipulate an election," said Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung.

On a radio show appearance on Thursday, DeSantis claimed Trump is "cherry picking" and "manipulating" votes and noted Trump's support for raising the retirement age to 70 in his 2000 book, "The America We Deserve."

"Now he's attacking me for some of these budget votes where you have hundreds of pages of different policy proposals," DeSantis said on Nashville's "The Matt Murphy Radio Show."

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is considering a presidential run in 2024, has openly talked about making changes to the entitlement programs. In an interview with Iowa's Des Moines Register on Wednesday, he said raising the retirement age "certainly should be on the table" but that changes shouldn't be made to anyone over 40 years old. Nikki Haley, an already declared candidate, has proposed entitlement reform for younger generations, specifically changing the retirement age.

The Club for Growth group aired a previous ad critical of Trump's stances on Social Security, and has clashed with the former president since the 2022 midterm elections, where the group and Trump backed opposing GOP candidates in the Republican primaries. The group has not yet endorsed in the 2024 Republican primary, but did host a February donor retreat of potential and declared candidates. Trump was not invited.

The LIV Golf tour, which is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, is scheduled to appear at two other Trump golf courses in Bedminister, New Jersey and Miami.

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