Biden Launches $45 Million Ad Buy to Counter Law and Order Critiques

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The former vice president’s team announced late Tuesday it was embarking upon a one-week ad campaign pushing back on the depiction of their candidate as weak on crime and rioting. The ads, which will run online and on television, will target voters in nine swing states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Its message appears to be designed to stem any potential backlash that may be forming against the candidate, along with Democrats in general, because of the protests and rioting spawned by Jacob Blake’s shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last month.

“I want to make it absolutely clear,” Biden says in the ad, as images of burned-out buildings and confrontations with police flash across the screen. “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

‘It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” the former vice president adds. “Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames. He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”

Biden’s campaign will spend approximately $45 million on the venture, by far its biggest ad buy to date.

The ad buy comes as the presidential race has tightened. Polling indicates that the success of the Republican Nation Convention, coupled with concerns over social unrest in America’s cities, is boosting Trump’s chances for reelection.

Biden’s position appears to have particularly deteriorated in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the two 2020 battlegrounds most impacted by rioting and disorder. Earlier this year, polling found the former vice president comfortably ahead of Trump in both states. In recent weeks, however, as unrest has marred each of the jurisdictions, the incumbent has seen a rise in support.

In Wisconsin, in particular, the race appears to be tightening, with the incumbent witnessing a steady rise in support since the rioting began. Similarly, throughout the month of August, a survey by Marquette University found that support for the Black Lives Matter movement and protests linked with the cause has plunged across the Badger state.

Likewise, in Minnesota, Trump has narrowed Biden’s lead. A Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday showed Biden only leading Trump by three percentage points in Minnesota. Trump’s standing has been boosted not only by the riots, but also by the endorsement of six Democrat mayors from Minnesota’s Iron Range. The region, which borders Canada and Wisconsin, has generally favored Democrats for generations but is increasingly swinging toward the GOP.

“It’s tightening up,” Ken Martin, the chair of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, told Politico last week when discussing the 2020 race. “But I wouldn’t trade our position with theirs in a million years.”

The situation has a number of Democrat strategists worried that a backlash against Biden could be brewing among suburban and swing voters. Both constituencies are considered must-win if Democrats have any hope of winning the White House in November.

Biden’s campaign appears to be taking the threat seriously, as exhibited not only by the new ads denouncing rioting, but also by the fact that it has moved up the start of its television ad campaign in Minnesota and plans to send the candidate to Wisconsin later this week.