Trump, DeSantis camps trade blows over AI-generated images of ex-president hugging Fauci

The Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis camps are trading blows after the Florida governor’s 2024 campaign debuted an AI-generated image depicting the former president hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci.

It’s also further fueling concerns about how AI ‘deepfakes’ of altered video, photos or audio portraying candidates saying and doing things they did not could affect the 2024 campaign.

‘Fake images from a fake campaign for a fake candidate. This stunt had the ‘please clap’ energy of Ron DeSanctimonious’ mentor, Jeb Bush,’ a Trump campaign adviser told Fox News Digital of the images.

One of Trump’s most vocal allies in the Senate, freshman Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, tweeted on Thursday, ‘Smearing Donald Trump with fake AI images is completely unacceptable. I’m not sharing them, but we’re in a new era. Be even more skeptical of what you see on the internet.’ 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., shared Vance’s statement and added, ‘Those fake AI campaign ads need to be taken down immediately.’

However, someone with knowledge of DeSantis’ operation accused Trump of putting out misleading content long before the social media post dropped, when asked about Vance’s tweet.

‘If the Trump team is upset about this, I’d ask them why they have been continuously posting fake images and false talking points to smear the governor,’ the person told Fox News Digital.

Just last month, Trump triggered an uproar on Twitter after he shared an AI-generated video mocking DeSantis’ campaign announcement on Twitter Spaces. It depicted DeSantis along with Twitter owner Elon Musk, along with George Soros, Adolph Hitler, and the devil among the guest participants.

Amid the fallout from the AI images showing Trump and Fauci, DeSantis’ rapid response director Christina Pushaw shared a post from the ex-president’s Truth Social app account, where Trump had posted a photoshopped image of DeSantis atop a rhino.

‘I think this might be an AI-generated image. Who knows?’ Pushaw wrote on Twitter.

Vance’s office did not return a request for comment on whether he believes political campaigns should be able to use AI-generated images or photoshopped pictures.

Trump is still the leading GOP primary candidate in a crowded 2024 field. DeSantis has consistently come second in national polls, though he trails Trump by double-digits in most.

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