Media

Trump impeachment battle hits TV ads

Aaron Schwartz
The fight over impeachment is coming to a television set near you.
 
In the two weeks since Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the Trump campaign and several outside groups have spent more than $8.3 million on television advertisements related to the probe.
 
{mosads}Trump’s campaign has spent almost $4 million on three separate ads, according to the nonpartisan tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
 
Those TV spots have sought to turn the inquiry back onto former Vice President Joe Biden, the focus of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
 
Trump’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to launch an investigation into Biden his son Hunter have become the impetus for the impeachment inquiry.
 
“Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” one of the advertisements says. “But when President Trump asks Ukraine to investigate corruption, the Democrats want to impeach him, and their media lapdogs fall in line. They lost the election, now they want to steal this one.”
 
Ukrainian officials have said there is no evidence that Biden or his son were implicated in any wrongdoing. The United States was one of many Ukrainian allies that wanted the prosecutor ousted, specifically for his disinclination to pursue corruption charges.
 
Kyle Roberts, the president and chief executive at Advertising Analytics, said he expects to see more spending as the impeachment inquiry dominates more of the news coverage.
 
In a sign of just how widespread the impeachment debate is likely to become, both Republican and Democratic outside groups are using the impeachment battle to target House and Senate incumbents seeking reelection next year.
 
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has dropped more than $2.2 million on its own advertisements, taking aim at 13 potentially vulnerable House Democrats, like Rep. Antonio Delgado (N.Y.), who support the impeachment inquiry.
 
“Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices, Delgado votes with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump, wasting tax dollars. Instead of working to create more jobs, Delgado wants more hearings,” an RNC ad says.
 
House Majority Forward, a group that helps protect House Democrats, has purchased its own air time defending those 13 members. The ads have not yet been released, but the group has laid down $1.5 million for rebuttals.
 
Need To Impeach, the group funded by billionaire hedge fund manager and presidential candidate Tom Steyer, released its own ads on Friday targeting three potentially vulnerable Republican senators — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Martha McSally (Ariz.).
 
“How can we have a president who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him? Who would bargain away the security of our nation and our elections for his own political gain?” the Need to Impeach ad in Arizona says. “Tell Martha McSally to put country over party.”
 
Steyer’s group has purchased more than $625,000 in airtime in those three states.
 
The race to define the contours of an impeachment inquiry is a familiar playbook. Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich used investigations into Bill Clinton’s misconduct as a centerpiece of the GOP’s television ad campaign in 1998, when the House voted to open an impeachment inquiry into the president about a month before the midterm elections.
 
But that example also offers a cautionary lesson for Democrats now pursuing Trump’s impeachment: In those midterm elections, Democrats gained five seats. Gingrich, under pressure for his decision to focus solely on impeachment, did not seek another term as House speaker.
Tags Antonio Delgado Bill Clinton Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Biden Joni Ernst Martha McSally Nancy Pelosi Newt Gingrich RNC Susan Collins Tom Steyer TV ads Ukraine

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