President Joe Biden is preparing to blanket the airwaves with a $25 million television and digital ad campaign in battleground states this month as Republicans are set to face off in their first presidential primary debate.
The first minute-long ad, titled “Fought Back,” which was first obtained by CNN, has an economic focus, marking the campaign’s latest effort to improve voter perceptions about Biden’s handling of the economy. It also makes explicit reference to Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, as Democrats attempt to tie GOP candidates at this week’s debate to Trump’s “MAGA agenda.”
“There are some who say America is failing,” a narrator reads as a picture of Trump flashes across the screen. “Not Joe Biden. He believes our best days are ahead because he believes in the American people.”
The ad blitz represents Biden’s latest attempt to convince skeptical Americans that his policies have led to an improving economy, even as 51% of Americans say they think the economy is still in a downturn or getting worse, according to a recent CNN poll.
That same poll found only 37% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the economy and even fewer – 30% – approve of his handling of inflation. The president’s overall approval rating stood slightly higher at 41%.
As a result, the ads seek to highlight the impact of the president’s legislative accomplishments, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the American Rescue Plan, with nods to the progress made since the Covid-19 pandemic initially cratered the economy.
“It was the worst pandemic in 100 years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But America fought back,” a narrator says in one ad. “Today unemployment is at record lows. Our economy leading the world. Joe Biden passed historic laws to rebuild the country but he knows it’s the American people who are the heroes of this story.”
“In small towns and big cities. We’re coming back stronger than ever.”
The new ad push is part of Democrats’ plan for counterprogramming the Republican debate where the Biden campaign believes the GOP “candidates will fight to out-MAGA each other,” according to a memo from the campaign’s communications director.
“It doesn’t matter who ‘wins’ the debate on Wednesday, the MAGA Republican presidential candidates have all chosen a losing strategy that is extreme and out of touch with the American people,” wrote Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director.
Biden’s ad push, which will include several forthcoming ads, will run for 16 weeks on broadcast and cable television in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, officials said.
The campaign is also placing ads in Hispanic and African American media in each of these states – as well as a targeted buy to reach Hispanic voters in Florida – as they look to court key voting blocs ahead of the 2024 election. This represents the largest and earliest buy a re-election campaign has ever placed in Hispanic and African American media outlets, a campaign official says, along with the largest overall buy for a re-election at this point in the cycle.
The campaign is hoping to capitalize on highly watched television events by running ads during the NFL kickoff and the World Series, officials said. It is working to place ads on streaming services like YouTube Reserve, Hulu and Connected TV and to create short-form content for Instagram and YouTube.
Biden has sought to frame his campaign as a battle against Republican extremism. His launch video criticized “MAGA extremism,” in an effort to highlight the hold Trump has on the Republican party. But as GOP hopefuls appear on stage in Milwaukee Wednesday night, Trump is planning to skip the debate in favor of an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, sources told CNN.
Still, the Biden campaign is taking steps to tie the GOP candidates on stage to Trump’s “MAGA” agenda” on both the airwaves and on the ground in Wisconsin, campaign officials said.
The Democratic National Committee and Biden campaign, including co-chair former Rep. Cedric Richmond, will hold a press conference in Milwaukee ahead of the debate as a prebuttal to the evening’s main event. Richmond will also hold events aiming to engage key coalition groups, including an event geared toward Black men in Milwaukee and another targeting women voters in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee.
The DNC will also launch a Milwaukee billboard campaign “contrasting the MAGA Agenda with Biden’s record of accomplishments,” a campaign official said. This will include a billboard truck that will drive around the debate venue.
In Washington, the DNC and the Biden campaign will set up a messaging “war room” to provide rapid response throughout the debate.
“As Republicans head to the debate stage next week to put on display their extreme and out-of-touch positions, we are investing in reaching Americans across the country with President Biden and Vice President Harris’ message for the middle class and for Americans’ fundamental freedoms,” Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement.
“This historic buy ensures that the President’s message reaches all Americans where they receive their news, and sends a clear sign that we are investing in an aggressive, meaningful, and effective paid media strategy.”
This article has been updated with new information.