The super PAC supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection is planning a $10 million advertising spree to attack former Vice President Joe Biden in three Rust Belt states that were crucial to the president’s 2016 victory, officials with the group said today.
The announcement about the ads — which will appear in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — came after a growing chorus of complaints from White House officials, campaign aides and a wide range of the president’s allies about a lack of activity from the group, America First. Outside Democratic groups have started airing blistering ads criticizing Trump’s belated response to the coronavirus and telling Americans that the country needs to elect a leader it “can trust.”
Trump campaign officials have long been frustrated by what they see as lagging fundraising by America First, which had raised $106 million as of its last filing on Jan. 31. The former head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, left that post last spring to become the top fundraiser for the group. The hope was that as a self-made billionaire, McMahon would be able to make multimillion dollar requests of other donors as a peer. But even with McMahon at the helm, little has improved, officials say.
Campaign officials also see a clear opportunity in the midst of a pandemic to draw a contrast between Trump and Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, that they think has not been fully capitalized on, and that would typically be a job taken on by the outside group.
“We cannot let Biden hide in the shadows,” Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, said on a conference call with surrogates this week, which was described by a person on the call. “We need to pick up the pace on him.”
Democrats have also registered the lack of activity. “It has been surprising, given that you have so many donors that are writing seven- and eight-figure checks to the Senate leadership funds, that they’re not doing the same for the Trump campaign,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA. He said that was probably partly because the campaign itself has been so successful at raising money that big donors “don’t think they have to.”