USA

Biden campaign to hammer Trump over pandemic response with $280 million in ads across 15 states

The presumptive Democratic nominee's ads will often run 60 seconds rather than the more typical 30-second commercials, and will frequently feature Biden speaking directly into a camera, campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a memo Wednesday. The ads will air in 15 states the campaign believes will be competitive in November's election.

The ads will focus heavily on the pandemic, contrasting what Biden's campaign sees as Trump's failures with the former vice president's experience and empathy. Biden's ads are intended to allow voters to "hear directly from the vice president in his own voice, speaking to this moment that we're in," O'Malley Dillon told reporters in a call detailing the strategy.

The reservations, which include $220 million for television and $60 million in digital ads, underscore Biden aides' belief that this year's election offers Democrats a wide playing field, with a large number of possible paths for Biden to reach 270 electoral votes.

The states in Biden's advertising plan include 10 that Trump won in 2016. Three -- Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- are the "blue wall" that Trump toppled. Five more -- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas -- are growing southern and southwestern states with increasingly diverse populations. The remaining two are Iowa and Ohio, states that former President Barack Obama won twice, but that have shifted in Republicans' favor in recent years, with Trump winning both in 2016.

Biden's buy also includes five states Hillary Clinton won in 2016: Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.

"Our path to victory is one of addition -- competing in more states and speaking to a wider share of the electorate. This falls in stark contrast to Donald Trump's paid media program which has driven a negative message of division and invested the majority of their resources into a smaller subset of states," O'Malley Dillon's memo said.

Biden is also planning to air a number of ads nationally, including during major sporting events, the political conventions and news broadcasts, said chief strategist Mike Donilon.

States with substantial vote-by-mail and early voting will see earlier, heavier advertising pushes, Donilon said.

And "there is a really large national investment we're looking to make, which puts us in a larger set of states and a larger map," said Patrick Bonsignore, Biden's director of paid media.

Biden in mid-July began running advertisements in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Texas focusing on the coronavirus pandemic and lambasting Trump's response to it. One ad, targeting seniors, featured a woman whose grandmother hand died -- potentially a model for future spots.

Biden's aides said ads would focus on health care, Biden's plans to rebuild the economy following the pandemic and on Trump's handling of it. Aides said they believe Trump's mismanagement of the health and economic crises will allow Biden to focus more directly on what they see as the paramount issue of the 2020 race.

"The Trump campaign is in a very difficult situation in the they are unable to speak to the central issue in this country," Donilon said.

"We're a contrast between one campaign which is looking to answer the overriding concerns in the country and looking to bring the country together, versus a campaign which is desperately looking for an attack or some number of attacks, which they hope will undo our campaign," he said.

Biden's campaign is also targeting Black voters through national advertising on BET, TV1, Bounce and OWN networks, as well as running digital ads on Complex, Blavity, Vevo, iHeart and Pandora and planning radio sponsorships.

Aides emphasized that Biden's Latino advertising efforts will feature voice-over talent that matches local populations, such as a voice of Mexican descent in Arizona and one of Puerto Rican descent in Florida. The campaign will target sports and entertainment specials and other niche programming on television, and will air digital ads on Univision, Mitu, Pandora and Vevo, as well as Hispanic ad networks.

The campaign is also aiming to reach voters through ads in video games, sports properties and on podcasts.

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