Nat'l Journal: Dems plan Romney-style ad beating on Trump in swing states before convention

Remember the summer of 2012? Mitt Romney had burned through all of his primary cash by the beginning of June, leaving him without much opportunity to answer attack ads from Barack Obama’s campaign until after the convention. That was almost three months of impotence, and the experience convinced the RNC to move the convention into mid-July to prevent another similar debacle in 2016.

With Donald Trump as the nominee, though, Democratic PACs sense that they may still have a five-week window for an encore. Get ready for a deluge of attack ads in swing states, National Journal’s S.V. Dáte reports:

Don­ald Trump loves to brag about how he al­ways coun­ter­punches when at­tacked, but he could soon be tak­ing an un­answered, $20 mil­lion pum­mel­ing in those few states that will de­cide the Novem­ber elec­tion.

A series of ads paint­ing him as an un­ser­i­ous, un­ready, and un­scru­pu­lous busi­ness­man who also hap­pens to dis­par­age wo­men and minor­it­ies is to start air­ing June 8, the day after the fi­nal primar­ies in which Trump is likely to clinch the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion.

“That’s a good day to start,” said Justin Barasky with Pri­or­it­ies USA Ac­tion, a su­per PAC back­ing Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton. “We’re not go­ing to the make the same mis­take Re­pub­lic­ans did in wait­ing too long [to go on the of­fens­ive].”

For five full weeks, in a lull between the primary sea­son and the GOP con­ven­tion, these mes­sages may have the air­waves to them­selves in sev­en swing states, with the no­tor­iously tight-fis­ted Trump loath to spend tens of mil­lions of his own money to counter the at­tack and the Re­pub­lic­an Party un­able to de­fend him un­til he of­fi­cially be­comes the nom­in­ee.

“Notoriously tight-fisted” presumes much, though. Trump’s usually willing to spend, and spend garishly, in his personal and business lives. He hasn’t done so in this presidential cycle, but then again, he hasn’t had the need to do so, either. He has managed to dominate the Republican primaries while spending minimally, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll use the same strategy in the general election, assuming he wins the nomination.

How much damage can Democratic PACs do in a five-week span? Some, probably, but don’t count out Trump’s ability to garner media coverage and make up for the lack of advertising. As soon as Cruz gets put away, Trump will turn his attention fully on Hillary Clinton, and will almost certainly use outrageous attacks and claims to get plenty of attention from national media. They’ll be spending money in swing states calling Trump an unscrupulous businessman, but in between commercial breaks, news reporters and analysts will be debating whether Trump went too far in claiming that Hillary deliberately sacrificed four Americans in Benghazi to cover up her incompetence in making Libya a failed state. The PACs will call Trump unserious while the media amplifies Trump’s calls for Hillary’s indictment and demands all of the financial records from the Clinton Foundation, and so on.

That will work for a while, anyway. At some point, the mainstream media may tire of being Trump’s free advertising service, although it certainly brings the ratings. That moment may be coming soon, as Trump clinches the GOP nomination and the story becomes whether a Republican or Democrat win the White House. Republicans may bet on Trump’s ratings to win that editorial battle, but … don’t count on it.