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Trump lashes out at GOP critics, exponentially increasing their visibility

President Trump
President Trump has repeatedly castigated a new ad by a group of Republican critics who are trying to prevent his reelection.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Reed Galen was about to go to sleep one night last week when his phone pinged. President Trump was tweeting about him and his group of longtime Republican allies who are working to make sure Trump is not reelected.

The group, a political action committee called the Lincoln Project, had created an ad called “Mourning in America,” a play on a famed 1984 Ronald Reagan campaign ad. The minute-long video blasts Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic freefall, arguing that he has made the country “weaker and sicker and poorer.”

It was mostly a digital effort, but they spent a few thousand dollars to air the ad on Fox News during Tucker Carlson’s nightly show on Monday. The purchase — aimed at an audience of one — clearly hit its mark.

“A group of RINO Republicans who failed badly 12 years ago, then again 8 years ago, and then got BADLY beaten by me, a political first timer, 4 years ago, have copied (no imagination) the concept of an ad from Ronald Reagan, “Morning in America”, doing everything possible to … get even for all of their many failures,” Trump wrote in a firestorm of tweets after midnight last Monday. “I didn’t use any of them … because they don’t know to win, and their so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe.”

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Galen, a former Orange County-based GOP strategist who now lives in Park City, Utah, described the moment as “surreal.”

“It’s one of these things where you work hard, and you have an idea, and sometimes it all comes to fruition,” he said. “I would be lying if I said it does not seem surreal to be sitting in bed and watching the president of the United States trash you and your friends and spell your name wrong.”

It was the most attention the Lincoln Project had received. The political action committee was formed by a small group of Republican strategists with ties to politicians such as former President George W. Bush, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Several have ties to California. They have endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president.

They had a relatively small budget and are largely unknown by the general public, though their anti-Trump efforts have garnered some headlines.

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Trump’s tweets launched them into a new stratosphere. Their videos typically receive several hundred thousand views; “Mourning in America” has been watched by more than 16 million people. Between Nov. 5 and March 31, the group raised under $2.6 million; in less than a week since the ad’s debut, they raised more than $2 million. The group plans to use the money to air the ad in Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio this week.

“From our perspective, half a million views was pretty good for a bunch of guys on a pirate ship, doing all the work themselves,” Galen said. But now, “it’s taken on a life of its own. That’s the thing he did, frankly. He gets you from the Twitterverse to the real world. People who otherwise may not have heard of us for days, weeks, or ever now know we exist. And it benefits us.”

Trump appears unlikely to stop.

“Why is it that all of the political pundits & consultants that I beat so easily & badly, people that charged their clients far more than their services were worth, have become so totally ‘unhinged’ when it come to your favorite President, me,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “These people are stone cold crazy!”


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