Former Vice President Joe Biden is making his first television ad buy of the general election, a $15 million television, digital, radio and print advertising blitz starting Friday for five weeks across six fall battlegrounds — all states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.
The ads, which will air in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, as well as on national cable, are evidence of Biden’s improved financial position after he raised $80.8 million in May, as well as a forceful early effort to lock in and expand the consistent lead he has established in national polls over Trump.
Trump began advertising earlier this spring, spending nearly $22.7 million through Monday, according to data from Advertising Analytics, a media-tracking firm, including millions of dollars of attacks on Biden.
Despite the Trump campaign’s early hopes that it could expand the Electoral College map from 2016, the president has so far advertised in the same six states where Biden is going up with ads, along with Iowa and Ohio, two states that Trump won more comfortably in 2016 and that were not initially expected to be crucial 2020 swing states.
“We’re playing offense,” Patrick Bonsignore, Biden’s director of paid media, wrote in a memo outlining the buy, which also includes $1 million in Spanish-language ads in Florida and Arizona. The campaign is also “making a mid-six-figure investment in African American print, radio, and targeted digital programming” in the six states, according to the memo.
For its opening English-language television ads, the Biden campaign is using portions of the former vice president’s speech this month in Philadelphia after the killing of George Floyd to narrate two different 60-second spots.
“The country is crying out for leadership,” Biden says in one of the ads. “Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that brings us together. That’s what the presidency is. The duty to care.”
That spot does not mention Trump by name but does include images of the president’s recent Bible-holding photo op near the White House — made possible after riot officers cleared peaceful protesters by force — as Biden vows to “heal the racial wounds of our country that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain.” Interspersed are images of recent protests against racial injustice and of federal security officers standing guard in helmets and fatigues outside the Lincoln Memorial.
The second ad, which neither mentions nor shows any images of Trump, centres on what Biden calls the “great American middle class” and the people who have been newly deemed “essential workers” during the coronavirus pandemic. “We need to do more than praise them,” he says in the ad. “We need to pay them.”
“This job is not about me,” Biden says of the presidency at the end of the ad. “It’s about you. It’s about us.”
In his memo, Bonsignore said the campaign would be buying ads on daytime Fox News programs and during NASCAR races in a concerted effort to target “a large volume of Obama/Trump voters.” In Florida, he said the campaign would be advertising in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville but also focusing on a “strong presence” in the Panhandle region “to get in front of white working-class voters who moved from Obama in ’12 to Trump in ’16 as well as open a conversation with the African American voters.”
The Biden campaign also emphasised its efforts to target Latino voters, saying it believed its Spanish-language ads were the earliest to be aired ever by a non-incumbent candidate for president. The Spanish-language ad employs a play on words and was recorded with three different narrators for different regions: someone of Mexican descent for the Phoenix market, Cuban descent for Miami and Puerto Rican descent for Orlando.
Both the English and Spanish-language ads will be supplemented with digital ads on platforms like Hulu, YouTube and Facebook.
Biden’s paid media program will begin on Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery. Trump had been scheduled to host his first campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, but he pushed the event back a day after he was fiercely criticised for scheduling it on that day in Tulsa, the site of the destruction of its “Black Wall Street” nearly 100 years ago.
The Biden memo said the campaign was buying print ads in more than 30 African American newspapers in battleground states, including The Grand Rapids Times and The Pittsburgh Courier. A set of digital ads specifically commemorating Juneteenth will run through the weekend in North Carolina and Florida.
© 2020 New York Times News Service