A super-PAC supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection started airing new TV commercials in Pennsylvania last week portraying Joe Biden as weak on China — part of an effort to damage the presumptive Democratic nominee’s standing in key battleground states.
The commercials are part of America First Action’s $10 million advertising blitz in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — three traditionally blue states that elevated Trump to the White House in 2016 and that are crucial to his prospects in November.
America First started airing similar ads last month, and the new spots will run through May. The group has booked about $3.5 million in airtime in the Keystone State to date, with the commercials running in every media market but Philadelphia, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
Trump has said the Chinese government should have done a better job containing the coronavirus, and his allies believe Biden’s record on China offers a potent line of attack. Local Republicans in Pennsylvania have also embraced a tough-on-China message.
“For five decades in Washington, Joe Biden’s been wrong on China,” the narrator says in the 30-second ad, pointing to his votes in favor of “job-killing trade deals.”
The ad plays a clip of Biden describing the Chinese as “not bad folks” and shows a photo of the former vice president clinking glasses with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“After 47 years in Washington, Joe Biden just doesn’t make sense,” the narrator says.
Biden’s campaign has aired its own ads saying Trump “rolled over for the Chinese” and showing clips of the president praising Beijing’s response to the pandemic.
The pro-Trump media offensive comes as the president grapples with twin crises: a public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 89,000 lives in the U.S., and an economy that has seen 36 million people file for unemployment benefits as states ordered most businesses to shut down.
Trump has urged states to ease those restrictions. The president visited a facility that makes personal protective equipment in Allentown on Thursday and called for Gov. Tom Wolf to reopen more parts of the state.
The Trump campaign has also been airing ads this month in Pennsylvania.
The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $61.7 million in April, a slight edge over the $60.5 million haul by Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
But Trump had a big head start on fund-raising and holds a significant cash advantage over Biden.
Biden’s campaign has not yet bought advertising in the state, but he’s been getting reinforcements from Democratic outside groups such as Priorities USA Action. The super-PAC has been airing anti-Trump TV commercials since late February.
Priorities USA has booked $15.2 million worth of airtime in various Pennsylvania media markets through the November election, according to Advertising Analytics.