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Democrats hold big edge in Spanish-language TV and radio spending up and down ballot

WASHINGTON — Much has been made about the significant ad spending advantage enjoyed by Democrats this cycle, but the trend extends to Spanish-language ads too, up and down the ballot. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign has spent $17.3 million on Spanish-language television and radio ads, compared to the Trump campaign's $8.3 million through Sunday, according to Advertising Analytics. 

And that margin is even bigger when outside groups are taken into consideration — overall, Democratic groups have spent $51.6 million on Spanish-language presidential TV and radio ads to the GOP's $9.8 million, per Advertising Analytics. 

Both presidential campaigns are embarking on similar Spanish-language strategies on the TV airwaves, at least at the broad level — a mix of ads that evoke their central campaign themes, along with specific messages targeting the Hispanic community.

For example, many of Trump's Spanish ads evoke his rhetoric on the economy (he regularly boasts about how minority unemployment dropped during his campaign, before the coronavirus pandemic), with people praising the Trump economy. But he also is making explicit arguments to Spanish-speakers by trying to argue that the nation under Biden would resemble the socialist/communist regimes in Latin and South American countries.

Biden's embarking on a similar combination of translating his general campaign message into Spanish, but also running spots targeted specifically on issues the campaign thinks will resonate with Spanish-speakers. Their spots include the sweeping calls for a new direction in America that's become a central message of his campaign, as well as testimonial ads from Spanish speakers criticizing Trump's economic record and coronavirus response. 

The Spanish-language ad advantage can be seen down-ballot too. In Senate races, Democrats have spent $16.1 million on Spanish-language TV and radio ads to the GOP's $1.7 million.

And in House races, Democrats have spent $11.6 million on Spanish-language ads to the GOP's $3.8 million, per Advertising Analytics.

Biden spokesperson on campaign travel: We're trying to keep communities safe

WASHINGTON — A top aide to Joe Biden’s presidential bid defended the campaign’s in-person event schedule as compared to President Donald Trump’s more robust travel during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the Democrat is pushing forward “aggressively” while still keeping communities safe.

Trump has personally visited North Carolina, Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania a combined 19 times since Sept. 1, compared to Biden’s 14 in-person visits to those states.

And it’s not just the candidates — the Biden campaign resumed its door-to-door battleground state canvassing in October after the pandemic shifted the campaign largely to virtual organizing. By comparison, the Trump re-election effort re-started its in-person canvassing months earlier.

When asked about the campaign’s strategy regarding in-person events, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said that Biden’s schedule represents a balance.

“We are campaigning incredibly hard. Vice President Biden has visited all of these battleground states multiple times. He was in Pennsylvania yesterday,” she said

“We have been very aggressively campaigning, but here’s the difference between what we are doing and what Donald Trump is doing: We’re doing it safely. We’re taking into account the safety of these communities that we’re visiting.”

Bedingfield pointed to reports linking Trump’s rallies to Covid-19 cases — some Trump rally attendees have subsequently become diagnosed with the virus, most notably in Minnesota and Oklahoma, although it’s unclear where they were first exposed.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, there has also been one case connected to a Biden campaign stop in the state.

Trump campaign senior adviser Corey Lewandowski told "Meet the Press" Sunday that the president is focusing on his closing argument.

“The president’s message should be, and continues to be, the promises that he’s made and the promises that he’s kept,” Lewandowski.

“Whether you care about Middle East peace, which he’s been able to do, rebuilding our military or building the strongest economy,” he added, “that’s the closing message. The closing message is: We have an opportunity to set our country forth in the next four years for a path we’ve been on the last four years.”

With just nine days to go before Election Day, Biden is heading to Georgia in what Bedingfield called an attempt to “shore up “as many paths to 270 electoral votes as we possibly can,” including one through a state that hasn’t backed the Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.

“We believe that we are seeing energy all across the country for Joe Biden and against Donald Trump,” she said.

Trump hasn't met with coronavirus task force in months, not expected to before election

President Donald Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in months and is not expected to do so in the final days before the election, according to an administration official.

Although nationwide Covid-19 infections reached a new high on Thursday, the president has decided to focus on his re-election campaign and continue a rigorous rally schedule in the closing stretch. It comes as Trump continues to promise the virus will “go away” and claim “we’re rounding the corner,” despite data to the contrary. 

The president has delegated most of the current task force work to Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the group and leads its discussions. Those meetings used to be more frequent in the earlier months of the health crisis but have since become less regular with the 2020 race taking priority for the White House. 

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said recently it has been “quite some time” since the president met with the group of agency heads navigating the pandemic.

“Obviously it's a bit of a chaotic time with the election,” Collins told NPR.  “There's not a direct connection between the task force members and the president as there was a few months ago. But this seems to be a different time with different priorities.”  

Instead, Trump is “routinely briefed” on the team’s findings and recommendations by Pence, according to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. 

Notably, Trump is also being closely advised on the pandemic by Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases. He was brought on to the task force in August, after the president saw his appearances on Fox News and appreciated that Atlas’ controversial views on the coronavirus more closely aligned with his desire to reopen states and schools. 

Atlas has repeatedly questioned the efficacy of masks and Twitter recently flagged one of his messages for violating its misinformation policy. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID director, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, have not appeared alongside the president in months. They were a near-constant presence in the briefing room earlier this year, before a shift in strategy that sent Birx on the road to push the administration’s message and left Fauci to do media interviews from beyond the White House grounds. 

NBC’s Kristen Welker pressed the president at the final debate in Nashville on what health experts he is actually listening to, if he considers Fauci to be a “disaster” and other scientists to be “idiots.” Trump responded: “I’m listening to all of them.” 

Trump campaign goes for kitchen-sink approach in new Spanish-language ad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's campaign is out with a new Spanish-language ad that throws the kitchen sink at former Vice President Joe Biden in the hopes of diminishing him among Florida's diverse Hispanic community. 

For Cuban voters, there’s a photo of Biden kneeling superimposed in front of a flag of Che Guevara and the ad also accuses him of betraying Nicaraguans, abandoning the Venezuelans, and being the candidate of Castro-Chavistas. The spot ends with Trump declaring “America will never be a socialist country.” 

Team Trump has been trying to dent Biden's image among Florida Hispanics as polls over the last few months have shown the Democrat underperforming there.  

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign recently started running testimonial spots of Spanish-speaking individuals telling their own stories — combatting the socialist charge against Biden, attacking Trump on Puerto Rican hurricane recovery and the coronavirus, and criticizing Trump's hydroxychloroquine push. 

Biden campaign launches new ads to combat Trump attacks among Latino voters

Cecilia, a young Venezuelan immigrant living in Kissimmee, Florida says that when members of her community tell her they’re not voting for Joe Biden because they have heard he’s a socialist, she stops to tell them that they should worry about President Donald Trump instead.

“Socialism, for me as a Venezuelan, was one of the most important things that destroyed my country. It may sound crazy to compare Trump with [Venezuelan President] Nicolas Maduro, but the reality is they’re very similar,” she says before comparing their authoritative tendencies to criticize opponents in a new one-minute TV ad airing in Cuban and Venezuelan-rich South Florida.

Her story is one of three testimonial ads the Biden campaign is releasing across 10 key states with high Latino populations in the final two weeks of the election as they hope to combat attacks Trump has launched against Biden’s in those communities. 

Arizona voters will hear from Lidia, a Mexican-American first-time voter whose lupus returned after she was unable to receive hydroxychloroquine to treat her disease because the president falsely declared the drug a treatment for the coronavirus. And to appeal to Puerto Ricans living in Florida and Pennsylvania, the campaign is running a bilingual TV ad featuring a Puerto Rican priest who says Trump “abandoned” the community during Hurricane Maria and again on the coronavirus.  

The campaign considers it most affect to air ads with Latinos who speak to common experiences and similar accents as those living across battlegrounds, a micro-targeting strategy they believe makes the most convincing appeal to support Biden within the community.

Three other TV and digital ads focus on reintroducing Biden’s record to a largely immigrant community who did not live in the U.S. during his early political career by reminding them of how he helped end the 2008 economic and his plan to do so again. The campaign also notably targets younger Latino voters, a huge voting bloc that could swing the election if they turnout, by telling them how Biden and Harris would work alongside them if elected.

Former RNC chair Michael Steele endorses Biden

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has endorsed Joe Biden, the first such endorsement of a Democratic presidential nominee in the modern era.

Steele was elected party chairman in 2009 as the GOP sought to regroup from President Barack Obama's historic victory in 2008 and he presided over the RNC as it marshaled tea party opposition to the Obama-Biden administration to make significant gains in Congress and across the country in the 2010 midterms.

A former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Steele lost a 2006 bid for U.S. Senate in the heavily Democratic state. He has become an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, serving as a senior adviser of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. But until Tuesday morning he had not officially endorsed Biden.

His backing comes as the Trump campaign has sought to make inroads among African American voters, especially younger Black men who have tended to support Biden in lower numbers than other age groups.

Because of his role with the Lincoln Project, it's unlikely Steele, who is also a political analyst for MSNBC, would play a direct role in Biden's campaign or act as a surrogate. But he informed the Biden campaign of his plans to publicly support him.

Biden outspent Trump on the airwaves in every key battleground state over past week

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign has outspent that of President Donald Trump on television and radio ads in every key battleground state over the last seven days as the Trump re-election effort continues to fall behind the Democrat in fundraising. 

Over the last seven days, Biden outspent Trump in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, per the latest figures from Advertising Analytics.

That's every single state listed as a toss-up or leaning Democrat/Republican by the Cook Political Report, meaning that Biden has the TV/radio spending edge in every single one of the most competitive states. 

Biden already had the edge in an overwhelming number of battleground states, but his total supremacy on the airwaves there came this past week when the Trump campaign cut its TV spending in Georgia in half week-over-week to about $720,000. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign boosted its weekly spend in Georgia to $1.5 million over the last seven days. 

TV and radio spending don't make up the full story. Trump's campaign is still spending heavily on digital platforms, and if money meant everything, Trump would have lost the 2016 race to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

But it's the latest sign of ways in which the resource gap may be having an impact on the race — dueling announcements from the campaigns last week revealed that the effort to elect Biden significantly outraised the Trump re-elect in September, and that the pro-Biden effort entered October with $180 million more in the bank than Trump's re-elect. 

Senate Democrats post historic fundraising totals as battle for Senate control reaches home stretch

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are riding a wave of historic third-quarter fundraising numbers into the final weeks before Election Day, even as Republicans are raising significant money of their own. 

Before this quarter, no Senate candidate had ever raised more in a single three-month quarter than former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who raised more than $38 million in the third quarter of 2018. 

But between July and September of this year, South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison raised $58 million, Maine Democrat Sara Gideon raised $39.4 million and Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly raised $38.7 million. 

U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon speaks at campaign event on Feb. 19, 2020 in Skowhegan, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Six other Democrats — Kentucky's Amy McGrath ($36.8 million), Iowa's Theresa Greenfield ($28.8 million), North Carolina's Cal Cunningham ($28.3 million), Montana's Steve Bullock ($26.8 million), Colorado's John Hickenlooper ($22.6 million), and Georgia's Jon Ossoff ($21.3 million) all raised more than $20 million last quarter. 

With Harrison raising more than any other Democrat, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham outraised all other Republican Senate candidates with $28.4 million. Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally raised $22.7 million, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell raised $15.7 million, Michigan Republican John James raised $14.4 million and Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines raised $11.5 million. 

It's clear the Democrats have the fundraising edge — when looking at all the Senate races rated "likely" or more competitive by the Cook Political Report (except Georgia's special election, where a slew of candidates are still running in a jungle primary), the average Democrat raised about $26 million last quarter compared to the average Republican's $10.2 million. 

But as Democrats spend big, primarily on television airwaves, the average Democrat has a similar amount of money in the bank than the average Republican candidate — $9.5 million in cash on hand for the average Democrat and $7.1 million for the average Republican. 

For example, despite raising almost $58 million last quarter, Harrison's South Carolina campaign had about $8 million in cash-on-hand, about equal with Graham. And while North Carolina's Cunningham outraised Republican Sen. Thom Tillis by a factor of four, Tillis ended the quarter with $6.6 million in the bank to Cunningham's $4.2 million. 

Biden camp appears to be heading into final stretch with serious cash advantage over Trump re-elect

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden's campaign apparatus appears to have significantly outraised President Donald Trump's re-election effort in September, according to both campaigns, with the Democrat heading into the final stretch of the presidential campaign with a massive resource advantage.

On Wednesday, the Biden campaign announced that it (along with the Democratic National Committee and its affiliated joint-fundraising committees) raised $383 million in September, ending the month with $432 million in cash on hand between them all. 

The Trump campaign tweeted Thursday that the Trump re-election apparatus (the campaign, the Republican National Committee) raised $247.8 million in September and had $251.4 million banked away. 

That means the Biden effort outraised the Trump effort by $136 million, and went into October with a more than $180 million cash advantage. Since all of these groups have to file their campaign finance reports at different times, the campaigns historically announce the top-line totals for their whole apparatus each month. So it's unclear at this moment how much of the money raised by each side is hard money raised directly to the campaign versus how much is controlled by the national parties.

The dynamic hasn't changed in recent months, with the Biden organization significantly outpacing Trump both in fundraising and cash-on-hand. And that's been reflected in how they are spending their money. 

Biden's campaign has spent $355.5 million on TV and radio ads since March 31, compared to Trump's $201.8 million, according to data from Advertising Analytics. And the discrepancies in the battleground states have been striking. 

The Democrat has outspent Trump by about a 2-to-1 margin in Arizona and Minnesota, as well as by roughly a 3-to-1 margin in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

And the spending disparity has exacerbated down the stretch — since Labor Day, the Biden campaign has spent about $166 million in key battleground states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin), compared to Trump's $72 million in those states. 

Biden camp taps Hollywood stars, jam bands, retired general for fundraisers

WASHINGTON -- Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, Alanis Morissette and more are lending their star power to Joe Biden's campaign coffers for virtual fundraisers in the closing weeks of the campaign, according to a list of invitations to the events obtained by NBC News.

Democrats have long tapped Hollywood stars for money and glitz, but the shift from in-person to virtual events during the coronavirus pandemic has made it easier for campaigns to book stars and put on more elaborate events, such as re-assembling the entire cast of a classic film for the first time ever to perform a live script read.

Meanwhile, retired four-star Gen. Stan McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan who endorsed Biden earlier this month, is hosting a virtual fundraiser with Richard Armitage, a former top State Department official under George W. Bush.

Morissette, the Canadian-American singer, will appear with the cast of the new Broadway musical based on her 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill. The cast of "The West Wing," a political touchstone for many liberals, will host a trivia night, while the creator and stars of Amazon's "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" will appear together for Biden as well.

The cast of the 2001 cult-classic comedy "Wet Hot American Summer" and others — including Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman and Michael Cera — will perform a live reading of the script later this month.

Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will host a virtual reception for Tennessee-based donors with Memphis-native Timberlake and actress Ashley Judd, who once considered a Senate run in neighboring Kentucky. 

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke will host an event featuring musicians Willie Nelson, David Crosby, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and jam band Widespread Panic's Dave Schools. Actresses Fran Drescher and Shannon Elizabeth will also appear, along with TV personality Montel Williams "and more" yet to be named.

The Biden campaign is also holding a Star Trek-themed "Trek the vote" event featuring actors from five versions of the sci-fi franchise, including Patrick Stewart, George Takei, and LeVar Burton along with three Democrats who have spoken publicly about their love of Star Trek: Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, and Stacey Abrams.

Natalie Portman will appear at food and agriculture-themed virtual event alongside former Obama White House chef and policy adviser Sam Kass and Roots drummer Questlove. Restaurateur José Andrés, who clashed with President Donald Trump over aborted plans to open a restaurant in his Washington, D.C. hotel,  will discuss Biden's plans to help revive the restaurant industry after the pandemic. 

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will appear with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, who is running for Senate in Arizona.

Comedians Aasif Mandvi, Aparna Nancherla and Sendhil Ramamurthy will help host a "South Asian Block Party." And Rita Moreno, one of the few Puerto Rican members of the cast of the original "West Side Story" film, will host a conversation with Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

The Biden campaign has been raking in money at an unprecedented clip after a slow start, which has allowed it to outspend the Trump campaign in key battlegrounds.

DNC launches new radio and print ad campaign to target Latino voters

HOUSTON — With early voting set to begin in several more key battleground states this week, the Democratic National Committee is rolling out a radio and print ad campaign aimed at boosting turnout among Latino voters for former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Latino communities across the battleground states have a critical voice in this election, that's why we are reaching out directly to these voters and ensuring they have the tools they need to make their plan to vote," Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement.

Perez emphasized the ways the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Latinos, blaming a "failed response to the pandemic" on the part of the Trump administration. 

The ad campaign, which the DNC says is a six-figure effort, strikes a similar tone with an equally stark message. "This November 3rd, our lives are on the ballot," the ads say in Spanish before imploring those reading or listening to "make your plan to vote" and directing potential voters to visit VoyAVotar.com. The Spanish site, hosted by the DNC, allows prospective voters to check their registration status and register while also making plans to vote absentee, in person early or on Election Day. 

With the latest polls in several battleground states showing Biden ahead or neck-and-neck with President Donald Trump — including Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — turning out key demographics could be the difference in those states.

The number of eligible Latino voters has grown more than among any other racial or ethnic group in battleground states over the past nearly two decades, but historically Latinos have had lower turnout rates than white and Black voters. According to Pew Research Center data, the number of eligible Latino voters who did not vote in 2016 was higher than the number of those who did. 

In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton underperformed among Latino voters compared to President Barack Obama. This cycle, the Biden campaign has faced criticism for what some view as slow and lackluster outreach to the community. Even so, the latest Pew Research poll showed Biden with a 34-point lead among Latino voters nationally, but it also revealed a possible area of concern — enthusiasm. The poll showed that while 79 percent of white Biden supporters are extremely motivated to vote for him, only 57 percent of Latino supporters say the same. 

The ads will run in Spanish print publications and on radio shows in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin. Voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina will also see print ads, while those in California, Texas and Colorado will hear them on the airwaves.

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