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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“This is President Trump’s vision of America, one of boundless optimism and certainty in America’s greatness,” said the ad that aired…