Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio was epically challenged by the drag queen he featured in the campaign’s attack ad.

Company video includes footage of drag performer Lil Miss Hot Mess reading to children during the Drag Queen Story Hour as Mr. Rubio says, “The radical left will destroy the children if we don’t stop them. They are raising children, trying to turn boys into girls.”

After learning of the unauthorized use of her image by Mr. Rubio’s campaign, Lil Miss Hot Mess released her own video clapping back, “Why are you so obsessed with me and Drag Story Hour?”

Lil Miss Hot Mess, who lives in Arizona and performs in Los Angeles, said a friend alerted her last week to Mr. Rubio’s ad that aired on the Weather Channel in Florida.

In her response video, shared by LGBT+ rights organization GLAAD, the performer lashed out at Mr. Rubio for his “hateful” attack on the Drag Queen Story Hour. The nationwide program began in 2015 with artists reading fairy tales to children to highlight the benefits of reading and increase diversity, says his website.

“We’re just reading books to kids here, encouraging them to use their imaginations to imagine a fairer and more fabulous world,” she said. “You, on the other hand, are here during a hurricane that is battering your state, spreading hateful, homophobic and transphobic bigotry.”

She argued that the senator should instead be working on tackling the climate crisis and gun violence in schools or improving the economy.

“You can either stand up for those of us who deserve justice and rights in this country, or you can stand out of our way because we’re here to spread joy, justice and a more fabulous future,” she countered.

She told NBC News that the ad aired on the Weather Channel the same day Hurricane Ian hit Florida.

“It seems so shocking that this is how he prioritized his campaign and the messages he created,” she said. “It’s ridiculous to go after drag queens for just reading books to kids.”

At least 96 people died in Florida as a result of the storm.

The performer noted that this isn’t the first time Mr. Rubio has lashed out at Lil Miss Hot Mess. A Drag Queen Story Hour event in May at a US Air Force base in Germany was canceled after several complaints, including a letter from Mr. Rubio.

The senator wrote to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall that the event was “politically divisive” and that it would “result in young children being around adults who are intentionally and blatantly sexualized.”

He moved on to criticism Hips on Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish – a book written by Lil Miss Hot Mess.

“The author of the book said they wrote it so kids could “feel the magic of drag and get a little practice shaking their hips or shaking their shoulders to know how [they] can feel fabulous inside [their] own bodies,” Mr. Rubio wrote in the letter. “As I hope you can agree, decisions about children and their bodies should be left to the moms and dads who serve our nation, not through government-sponsored propaganda at US Air Force bases.”

In an NBC News article in JuneLil Miss Hot Mess claimed that Mr. Rubio was using “dangerous rhetoric that suggests drag queens are sexualizing children.”

Instead, she said, “dragging activates creativity and play, expanding traditional ways of thinking.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess noted that she has published studies along with Associate Professor Harper Keenan from the University of British Columbia, noting that Drag Queen Story Hour uses effective teaching methods because it creates a sense of wonder and curiosity.

It also “encourages children to question why things have always been done a certain way,” the newspaper writes.

Mr. Rubio’s campaign ad is one example in a long line of examples of Republicans arguing that LGBT+ events and drag shows are dangerous for children. Some argue that this is “grooming” – using an old stereotype based on lies about LGBT+ people.

As many as three events were reportedly targeted by white nationalist groups during Pride in June NBC News.

When a Texas church held a drag race last week, armed protesters showed up at the scene, reports Houston Chronicle.

Lil Miss Hot Mess told NBC News that Drag Queen Story Hour helps unleash “kids’ imaginations” and helps “them be their best selves.”

“We’re not on the defensive here,” she said outlet. “We’re really here and doing this because we think it’s the right thing to do, and because we believe it really opens up new possibilities for our world and our future.”

The Independent reached out to Mr. Rubio’s office for comment.