Trump expected to launch dozens of TV ads boosting Republicans in key races




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-07 13:16:40Z
  • By The Guardian
Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters  

Donald Trump is expected to launch dozens of television ads to boost Republicans in key races across the country, with the former US president asserting his political influence as the campaigns head into the final stretch of the midterm elections, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The spots - funded through a newly and specially created political action committee christened Maga Inc, an abbreviation for the Make America Great Again slogan - are anticipated to come in several waves of messaging over the coming weeks, the sources said.

Trump is expected to provide the majority of the assistance to Republican Senate candidates that he endorsed, including Mehmet Oz running in Pennsylvania against John Fetterman, JD Vance running against Tim Ryan in Ohio, and Herschel Walker running against Raphael Warnock in Georgia.

All three rightwing senate candidates have experienced rocky campaigns, not least as all three come from non-political backgrounds with extreme views on various subjects. Their travails have been widely seen as boosting Democrat chances of keeping hold of the senate to the ire of Republican leaders.

The anticipated moves by Trump would mark the first time that the former president has become actively involved in this year's midterm campaigns, and also the first time that he has opened his war chest to finance ad buys that are being considered by political operatives as significant.

While Trump has spent much of the past year reveling in playing kingmaker as he ceremonially considered endorsements and held rallies with high-profile candidates, he has been reserved when it comes to spending the millions of dollars he has raised in round-the-clock fundraising.

Trump's principal political action committee, Save America, has raised about $124m in the past year and used only about 20% of that number to pay for rallies, travel, consultants and lawyers, according to the entity's filings.

That all changed on Thursday night, as Trump unveiled a pair of television spots aimed to boost Oz and Vance, who have both lagged millions of dollars behind their Democratic opponents.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, Democratic candidate Fetterman is running a campaign that leans hard into preserving abortion rights - which has broad support across the state - while the Republican candidate Oz is running a negative campaign trying to characterize his opponent as being soft on crime.

Trump's new television spot doubles down on Oz's harsh messaging, attacking Fetterman in ominous terms for his efforts to grant clemency to certain convicts and specifically his vote to commute the life sentence for a man convicted of murdering a woman with scissors more than 30 years ago.

In the Ohio Senate race, Democratic congressman Tim Ryan is running a campaign about bringing jobs and manufacturing back to the state, as Vance, the author of the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, has attempted to burnish an image as a Trump-aligned conservative.

The line of attack from Trump's new television ad against Ryan centers on his Democratic voting record while in Congress, characterizing him in conspiratorial terms as an agent of the supposed "deep state" - a familiar Trump trope that has no evidence to back it up.

The assistance from Maga Inc - funneling money from Save America, which, as a leadership political action committee cannot itself help campaigns - marks an effort by Trump late in the midterm campaign season to prop up his endorsed candidates in unexpectedly narrow contests.

For instance, although Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2020, polls in recent weeks show Vance and Ryan as essentially tied. The close nature of the race alarmed national Republicans enough to start devoting more resources to the race, the Guardian has previously reported.

But with the campaigns and outside groups facing cash concerns, aides to Trump-endorsed candidates privately urged Trump's political team to provide assistance beyond staging rallies, the sources said, both through financing television spots and digital media ads.

Top operatives at Maga Inc are expected to allocate some resources towards campaigns' social media ads, digital operations and in get-out-the-vote initiatives, one of the sources said. Overall spending by Maga Inc for the midterms could run into tens of millions, a second source said.

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