Or at least that’s how the media is describing it.
I’ll confess I was a bit taken aback yesterday when I was flipping through the cable news channels and saw CNN pitching a story about how the President had just released a new “campaign ad.” Sure enough they had the story on their website with the provocative title, Trump re-election campaign releases ad attacking ‘enemies’. (Note the scare quotes in the title.)
The day after racially charged violence gripped Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign released an ad attacking his “enemies” for obstructing his agenda.
The ad slammed Democrats, the media and career politicians for what it said were attacks on and obstruction of Trump’s efforts while touting the President’s record so far of overseeing low levels of unemployment, record-high stock prices and what the ad called “the strongest military in decades.”
“The President’s enemies don’t want him to succeed, but Americans are saying, ‘Let President Trump do his job,'” the ad said.
Speaking as one of the beleaguered bloggers who had to cover the entire 2016 train wreck wall-to-wall, I’ll confess that I was immediately tempted to reach for the antacids. Campaigns for the quadrennial show have been starting earlier every cycle, but barely 200 days into the current term seems a bit beyond the pale, no? A closer examination, however, could leave the viewer wondering whether this actually was a campaign ad. Let’s take a look at it so you can decide for yourselves.
To be fair, you can excuse the media to at least a certain extent for calling this a “campaign ad.” It was not put out by the White House or any executive branch department. It came directly from the committee to reelect Donald J. Trump. It was paid for by campaign contributions, not the federal government. It’s even carrying the signature statement declaring that Trump has “approved this message.”
What it’s lacking, however, is any sense or suggestion that you need to go cast a vote for this guy. (A process which thankfully will not begin for at least another 28 months, giving us all some time to get past our media hangovers.) Everything in the advertisement is a promotion of the President’s agenda and declarations that various agencies are moving to thwart that agenda. The theme of, “Let the President Do His Job” is markedly different than, “Don’t vote for those other people in the primary next time.”
This also strikes me as being far afield from the usual, rally the base type of red meat we see at Trump’s ongoing series of rallies. If anything, this short video is seeking to “re-expand” his base by sidestepping the constant negative coverage he receives in the press and pointing out that his agenda is being stymied.
The question which remains to be answered is whether or not this ad will actually make it off of the campaign website and onto television screens. And if so, where and for how long? Trump is getting a bit of free play from the press right now and no doubt there will be plenty of political outlets such as this one running it for him for free. But that’s only going to reach the political junkies who were probably already looking at it anyway. If he’s going to shift public opinion with an effort such as this he’s going to need to reach the many, many Americans who were extremely glad to put the 2016 election in their rear view mirror and are now watching Game of Thrones and the NFL pre-season. And that’s going to burn up some money.