In one of President Donald Trump’s latest television ads, he emerges from Walter Reed Medical Center after his hospitalization to treat COVID-19 with his right fist raised. He then waves while walking across the White House lawn. A shop owner turns a sign on the door from “closed” to “open.”
“President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus and so is America,” the narrator says. “President Trump tackled the virus head on, as leaders should.”
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The ad sparked controversy after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, called for it to be taken down because of a clip that was taken out of context.
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Following the clip about Trump's leadership, Fauci is shown saying, "I can't imagine that anybody could be doing more." The comment, in fact, was referring to the work of the coronavirus task force, not the job the president was doing.
Trump revisited the coronavirus theme in online ads, including one on Facebook that showed him speaking from the White House.
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“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” said Trump, who suggested he might be immune. “You’re going to beat it.”
The ads highlighted a priority in Trump's campaign advertising: responding to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who has criticized the president as reckless and incompetent in handling the virus that so far killed 215,000 Americans dead and forced 30 million to file for unemployment.
Campaign advertising is one of the ways that candidates can reach voters most directly, with detailed messages tailored for specific voters. The Biden campaign's fundraising advantage allowed the challenger to buy double or triple the television ads in key battlegrounds while outspending Trump nationwide. But advertising won't necessarily dictate the winner, as Trump demonstrated in 2016 when Democrat Hillary Clinton outspent him.
Biden has spent $223 million airing television ads 356,366 times since April 9, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. For comparison, Trump spent $161 million on 261,633 airings during the same period, the study found.
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During September, Biden spent $153 million on television and radio ads, nearly tripling Trump’s $57 million, according to Advertising Analytics. But outside groups narrowed the difference to $189 million supporting Biden and $127 million supporting Trump, according to Advertising Analytics. Trump is also able to get his message out for free through televised rallies and speeches.
The gap narrowed as the campaigns head to the finish line, but Biden kept a significant advantage. From Sept. 28 through Oct. 11, Biden’s campaign spent nearly $56 million to air television ads 80,000 times while Trump’s campaign spent nearly $32 million to air ads 32,000 times, according to the Wesleyan study.
Trump’s most prolific television ad last week said he “delivered the impossible” and would continue to fight the country’s reliance on China, eradicate the coronavirus and make medicines in the U.S. Trump also set a goal of creating 10 million jobs in 10 months.
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“This is President Trump’s vision of America, one of boundless optimism and certainty in America’s greatness,” said the ad that aired more than 10,000 times during the week ending Oct. 9, according to the tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
The ad highlighted common themes in Trump’s campaign advertising. The president mentioned jobs in 53% of his ads, infectious diseases in 47% and China in 44%, according to the Wesleyan analysis of the ads.
Two of the president's latest broadcast and cable ads released Monday attack Biden. One shows Mount Rushmore while saying Trump brought "real leadership," in contrast to "endless wars" and a "broken" Department of Veterans Affairs under the Obama administration. The other claims Biden would violate the Second Amendment with unconstitutional gun control measures.
Another television ad released Saturday accused Biden of planning to raise taxes. The ad was paired with an ad that said Trump is recovering from the coronavirus and so is America. The ad says Trump protected seniors and is sparing no expense to develop life-saving drugs.
"We'll live carefully, but not afraid," the ad says.
Trump also promoted his nominee to the Supreme Court during the week before Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings. The ad described her as a constitutional conservative, proud Christian and mother of seven, while warning that the “radical left” would try to block her by questioning her faith and family.
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A majority of likely Pennsylvania voters also said they do not support adding justices to the Supreme Court. "You start creating more justices to get the opinions you want," he said. "It's almost like 'well I gotta win and I'm just gonna create new facts.' " But Laws said that she supports adding justices to the Supreme Court, adding that it shouldn't be called court packing. "I believe it should be called court evening," Laws said. She said that she believes that the "minority shouldn't be ruling the majority," adding that the "the majority of the country is pro choice.
In online ads, Trump has outpaced Biden throughout the campaign, although the challenger is catching up in the closing weeks. Trump has spent $165.8 million on ads on Facebook and Google since mid-April and $33.8 million since late September, according to the Wesleyan study. For comparison, Biden spent $130.1 million on online ads since mid-April and $34.7 million since late September, according to the study.
Trump’s Google ads tend to target the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida and parts of Michigan, while also appearing in states with key Senate races such as Maine, Iowa, and parts of Ohio, Nevada and Minnesota.
Common themes in the ads attack Biden as a pawn of China and as mentally unreliable. One ad has a picture of Biden holding a Chinese flag and says he would prefer to depend on that country for manufacturing. Another ad depicts Biden with a twist on the traditional campaign language saying, “I’m Joe Biden and I forgot this message.”
On Facebook, the Trump campaign attacked Biden for accomplishing nothing during “FOUR DECADES in the Washington swamp. “He’s just a washed-up, career politician being used as a PAWN by the Radical Left,” the ad states. “Yikes. Does that sound like someone who’s ready to lead a Country?
Trump’s campaign also emphasizes Vice President Mike Pence, from his debate Oct. 7, assailing Sen. Kamala Harris of California for voting against a trade deal with Canada and Mexico that Pence said was “huge win” for automobile manufacturers and farmers. Pence said Harris put her radical climate agenda of workers.
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Heading into the final three weeks of the campaign, Trump ads on Facebook warn "we cannot let Joe Biden win" and "we must stand against the extreme radical left."
US President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for COVID-19.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden appear in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for his acceptance speech to the Republican National Committee Convention on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.
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US President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection during the final day of the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks as delegates gather during the first day of the Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. - President Donald Trump went into battle for a second term August 24, 2020 with his nomination at a Republican convention where he will draw on all his showman's instincts to try and change the narrative in an election he is currently set to lose.
President Donald Trump catches a baseball thrown by former New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera on the South Lawn of the White House on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and Rivera met with youth baseball players to celebrate Opening Day of Major League Baseball.
Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., points to a collection of Ford GT vehicles while talking with President Donald Trump in a mask during his visit to the Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti on May 21, 2020. Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, is standing in the middle.
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Phoenix, Ariz.
President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall "America Together: Returning to Work," event, with anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on May 3, 2020.
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Donald Trump listens as Vice president Mike Pence answers questions during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump chats with Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter, Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee, Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Friday, March 6, 2020 in Putnam County, Tenn., after tornados ripped killed 25 people throughout the state.
President Donald Trump meets CBP officer Donna Sifford who was shopping at Walmart at the time of the attack that killed 22 and injured 25 others. Sifford helped rescue people from the shooter on August 7, 2019.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pause at the crosses representing the 23 people killed by the Sunday March 3, 2019 tornado in Beauregard, Ala., during his visit to the area on Friday March 8, 2019.
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address on Feb 5, 2019, from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington. Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are behind Trump.
President Donald Trump arrives in McAllen, Tx to speak to offices and tour the U.S southern border on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The trip comes two days after President Trump delivered a nation wide address setting there is a crises along the border and calling for a wall or barrier.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with members of the military at a dining hall at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. In a surprise trip to Iraq, President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria where they have been helping battle Islamic State militants.
President Donald Trump walks with Melania, Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, alongside Tree of Life Synagogue rabbi Jeffrey Myers, near the memorial site to the 11 victims in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and FEMA director Brock Long, visited the city of Lynn Haven, Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. A large parking area behind the devastated police department and City Hall buildings became a temporary location for local volunteers and people to compile and distribute supplies, food and assistance.
President Donald Trump takes questions from a gathering of reporters next to Air Force One at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. President Trump visited the Cincinnati area for a MAGA Rally at the Warren County Fair Grounds in Lebanon, Ohio, Friday night.
President Donald Trump acknowledges retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, during ceremonial swearing-in held at the East Room of the White House for newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, left, on Oct. 8, 2018.
President Donald J. Trump awards Sergeant John A. Chapman the posthumous Medal of Honor on August 22, 2018 in the East Room at the White House for his actions on March 4, 2002, on Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan. Chapman's aircraft was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, ejecting one teammate rom the aircraft, and crippling the helicopter after it crashed in the valley below. Chapman and the remaining joint special operations team members voluntarily returned to the snow-capped mountain, into known enemy stronghold, in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate. Sergeant Chapman’s spouse, Valerie Nessel, and family joined the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service and sacrifice on Aug 22, 2018.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin offers a ball of the 2018 football World Cup to US President Donald Trump during a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. The US and Russian leaders opened an historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an "extraordinary relationship" and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world.
President Donald Trump embraces Pauline Conner the widow of Kentucky soldier First Lt. Garlin M. Conner posthumously honored with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, for his actions in World War II.
President Donald Trump speaks with Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski, left, after awarding him the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Slabinski oversaw a daring 2002 assault and rescue mission on a snowy Afghanistan mountaintop and carried a "seriously wounded teammate down a sheer cliff face" while leading "an arduous trek across one kilometer of precipitous terrain, through waist-deep snow while continuing to call fire on the enemy."
President Donald Trump holds an executive order he just signed on rural broadband flanked by Rep Diane Black, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Marsha Blackburn at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 in Nashville, Tenn.
President Donald Trump talked about his tax reform plan at the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 193rd Special Operations Wing at the Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, PA on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
President Donald Trump stands with Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, before the Obama's departs on Marine One after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 20, 2017.
Donald Trump takes the oath of office, while standing with Melania Trump and Barron Trump, during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office Jan 20, 2017.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump's ad strategy targeting senior citizens: I recovered from COVID-19 and so can America
Donald Trump made many promises in 2016 and early in his term. Which has he kept and what is he still working on? .
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