Democratic group launches $6 million campaign attacking Trump on coronavirus response
The Democratic Party's leading super PAC this week is launching ads in a $6 million campaign that slams President Donald Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic -- in one of the first major rounds of anti-Trump advertising focused on his handling of the outbreak.
The campaign from Priorities USA Action opens with a 30-second television commercial, called "Exponential Threat," that charts the rise in US coronavirus cases as viewers hear portions of Trump's initial comments downplaying the threat.
The ad, shared first with CNN, will begin running Tuesday in four key battleground states -- Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Priorities officials said.
Priorities also will start running two digital ads Tuesday on Facebook and other platforms that portray Trump as squandering opportunities to combat the public health crisis facing the country. One ad, called "Map," shows coronavirus cases spreading across a map of the United States. A second, "Steady Leadership," casts former Vice President Joe Biden as offering "presidential leadership" to counter a White House in "chaos."
Priorities also has produced another 30-second TV ad, dubbed "Better Prepared," that strikes similar themes. Officials say it likely will run in the future as part of the $6 million campaign.
"From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger," Guy Cecil, Priorities' chairman, said in a statement. "His failure to lead continues to have real life-and-death consequences as hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses and millions of Americans are left without the tools and information they need."
Biden, who now holds a near-insurmountable delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has stepped up his criticism of Trump's handling of the pandemic in recent days, telling reporters last week that the President should "stop swerving between over-promising, buck-passing and start delivering protection to our people."
On Sunday, his campaign began running a Facebook ad that seeks to draw a contrast between the former vice president and Trump. The ad, currently running in Wisconsin, opens with Trump's verbal attack on an NBC reporter last week who asked the President what he would say to Americans who are scared about the coronavirus.
Biden also is slated to deliver remarks Monday about combating the outbreak that, as on Sunday evening had infected more than 34,000 people in the United States and had killed at least 413.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said Sunday that Biden and his allies are seeking to "undermine" the response to the crisis with their criticism.
"It used to be that Americans faced national adversity with unity, but Joe Biden and his allies have abandoned that principle in favor of rank, despicable politics," Murtaugh said in statement. "They offer nothing but partisan sniping from the sidelines and seek to undermine the federal response to the crisis by misinforming and frightening people."
Priorities' advertising is part of the group's plan to spend $150 million before the Democratic National Convention to target Trump online and on television. Priorities, first established to aid President Barack Obama's reelection in 2012, is one of the largest outside organizations active in Democratic presidential politics and is poised to play a key role in defending the Democratic nominee against the formidable financial machine assembled by Trump and the Republican National Committee.
Campaign reports Friday with the Federal Election Commission underscore the incumbent President's enormous financial advantage: Trump's campaign started March with more than $94 million in cash reserves, compared to Biden's nearly $12.1 million in leftover funds.
Other groups have begun to step up their coronavirus advertising. For instance, another Democratic-aligned super PAC, Pacronym, plans to spend $2.5 million through the end of April on a coronavirus-related digital advertising campaign that is expected to total $5 million by July. It has spent $300,000 so far, spokesman Kyle Tharp said.