Editor’s Note: It’s an election year, and that means lots of political commercials. Ad Watch is an occasional Civil Beat series in which we help you understand what you’re seeing and hearing when it comes to campaign messages.
With the environment around GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign continuing to deteriorate — incidents of violence and threatened violence between Trump supporters, Trump campaign staff and protestors are now as routine as the candidate’s slurs against everyone from Muslims to his fellow candidates — it was only a matter of time until ads using Trump’s own words against him began in earnest.
They’re certainly here now. And if the newest such spot, released Monday, is any indication, Trump had better buckle in for a seriously bumpy ride.
A GOP super-PAC called Our Principles PAC unveiled a withering take-down called “Quotes,” a one-minute spot featuring women reading actual Trump quotes about women.
“Bimbo. Dog. Fat pig,” the ad begins.
As with quotes in the rest of the spot, each descriptor is tied to a news story and specific outlet from which the material was drawn. Among the lowlights:
“I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers.”
“You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write, as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
“Women, you have to treat them like shit.”
The ad concludes with several women saying, “This is how Donald Trump talks about our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. If you believe America deserves better, vote against Donald Trump.”
It was one of two ads released Monday by Our Principles, which is airing the spots on national cable and Florida broadcast outlets with a combined buy of $4 million.
The second — titled “Unifier?” — is drawn directly from one of the campaign’s recent controversies in which Trump campaign manager Corey Leandowski was accused of grabbing a reporter for Brietbart.com, Michelle Fields, with such force that she was left with bruises on her arm. Leandowski, the ad says, faces criminal charges in the matter.
Fields and some colleagues have since resigned from the Brietbart, a far-right outlet, over the lack of support they say it provided to Fields.
The ad features a string of video snippets of Trump at various campaign rallies “I’d like to punch ‘em in the face,” Trump says at one.
At another: “Knock the crap out of them,” he says.
The ad continues with an incident from North Carolina last Wednesday in which a Trump supporter punches a protestor as the protestor is being led out of a rally venue by police. It continues with footage of angry Trump supporters lashing out at individuals at other events. The supporter who punched the protestor — John McGraw, 78, who was subsequently arrested — is shown talking on camera about the man he punched, saying, “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
“Donald Trump’s too reckless and dangerous to be president,” the spot concludes.
Until the past few weeks, Republicans had been loathe to criticize Trump, who has relentlessly attacked anyone critical of him or his candidacy since jumping into the race last summer.
But with the controversial reality TV star now holding a 100-delegate lead toward winning the GOP nomination — built in part through his recent strong win in the Hawaii caucuses, which gave him 43 percent of the vote — and opportunities to stop him narrowing, establishment PACs and Trump’s fellow candidates are increasingly training their sights on him.
Our Principles is a prime example of those now taking aim: The PAC was founded by Republican strategist Katie Packer, a former Mitt Romney aide.
It has a wealth of material to choose from.
Since lobbing shocking slurs at Mexican immigrants as part of his candidacy announcement last year, Trump has rarely allowed more than a few days to go by without some outrageous insult or incredible statement. Hawaii Republicans heard some of Trump’s most outlandish recent remarks via a campaign robocall aimed at them days before the caucus featuring Trump’s often profane broadsides.
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? …We’ll beat the shit out of them,” Trump says on the call, the audio lifted from Trump remarks at multiple campaign events. “It’s political bullshit, you understand?”
In recent weeks, the combination of heightened attention being given Trump in campaign news coverage and the intensity of a Republican campaign that still features four contenders has seemed to ramp up the pace of shocking comments and the volume with which they reverberate throughout the news cycle.
None of it seems to be negatively affecting Trump, though, who holds substantial leads in many polls in the delegate rich states of Florida, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri, all of which vote Tuesday. In most cases, those polling leads have widened over the past month.