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Joe Biden’s ad launch signals new strength in his campaign to unseat President Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden, wearing a mask, bows his head during a June 1 visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del.
A masked former Vice President Joe Biden during a June 1 visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del.
(Associated Press)

Joe Biden has launched his first major advertising campaign of the general election race, spending $15 million in key states where President Trump is running spots attacking the former vice president.

The move by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee reflects his growing strength in both fundraising and polling at a time when most Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

It also offers voters in six of the most competitive states in the November election a counterpoint to Trump ads that attempt to portray Biden, 77, as a feeble old man who has failed to confront China.

Both those lines of attack have lost potency in recent days after Trump, 74, was seen having trouble walking down a ramp at a West Point graduation and his former national security advisor said the president had asked China’s leader to help him win reelection. John Bolton, in a book scheduled to come out Tuesday, accused Trump of pleading for Chinese President Xi Jinping to aid him by increasing purchases from U.S. farmers.

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Biden’s television and radio ads will start running Friday in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and North Carolina.

The geography of the advertising is a sign of how the race, for now, is tilting Biden’s way. Trump won all six of those states in 2016 but has been defending them this spring with TV ads attacking Biden. The only other two states where Trump has run substantial TV advertising for the general election are Iowa and Ohio, both of which he also won four years ago.

Voter dissatisfaction with Trump’s pandemic response puts him on defense in Iowa, a state he won by a wide margin in 2016

One of Biden’s new spots shows Trump walking past police in riot gear who cleared protesters from a park outside the White House so the president could pose for news cameras with a bible. Narrated by Biden, who vows to heal racial wounds and battle “for the soul of this nation,” it shows the former vice president wearing a mask, which Trump has refused to do in public view. Trump administration guidelines suggest wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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“I know so many Americans are suffering — suffering loss of a loved one, suffering economic hardship,” Biden says. “The country is crying out for leadership — leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together.”

Cash from donors big and small is gushing into Biden’s campaign, driven by concern over Trump and growing confidence in the Democrat’s operation.

The new Biden advertising will run over the next five weeks, according to the campaign. It will be a mix of television, radio, print and digital ads, including some in Spanish. Since March 1, Trump has spent about $36 million on advertising, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad-tracking firm.

Biden is currently leading Trump, 50.5% to 41.3%, in an aggregate of national polls by the website FiveThirtyEight. The site’s aggregate of state polls show Biden also leading Trump in eight of the states that the president carried in 2016: Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia.


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