House Democrats are launching a seven-figure television and online ad campaign aimed at tying GOP incumbents to Donald Trump in the run-up to the Republican National Convention, wagering that their long-shot hopes of winning back the majority will rest heavily on their ability to link the mogul to vulnerable down-ballot Republican contenders.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will begin airing a pair of ads Monday seeking to portray Republican members as accomplices to Trump and arguing that GOP loyalty is not a sufficient justification for standing behind the presumptive presidential nominee and his controversial positions. Trump will huddle with Republican members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning.
The ads mark a DCCC effort to nationalize the campaign earlier than ever before. They will primarily target independent women age 25 or older and give extra focus to 10 districts where the DCCC anticipates facing well-funded incumbents who are expected to begin advertising soon, the committee said. The DCCC is the campaign arm for House Democrats.
Most of the 10 districts are comprised of suburban areas with highly educated workforces. The targeted Republican members are: Rep. Steve Knight (Calif.), Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.), Rep. John L. Mica (Fla.), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Rep. David Young (Iowa), Rep. Bob Dold (Ill.), Rep. Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Rep. John Katko (N.Y.), Rep. Will Hurd (Tex.) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.).
One commercial asks: "How would it feel to find out your child was the school bully? Would you feel much better to learn they were only the bully's sidekick?" Three boys are shown bullying a fourth.
The narrator argues that as Trump pursues destructive policies, congressional Republicans are "standing by him."
In a second ad, a rapid succession of people argue that party loyalty is not a valid reason for congressional Republicans to back Trump.
"If he's our standard-bearer, what the heck happened to our standards?" one man asks.
The spots will continue running though the Republican National Convention, which starts July 18, on national cable networks including CNN and MSNBC. The committee is also purchasing time at the district level on lifestyle and entertainment networks including HGTV, Hallmark, the Food Network, TNT, USA and Bravo.
The campaign marks the first national cable television and digital ad campaign, the DCCC said.
But tying the Republicans to Trump might be more difficult than Democrats think. Several of these Republicans have so far refused to declare their support for Trump as their presidential nominee, including Knight, Dold and Comstock, and almost none of them plans to attend the GOP convention in Cleveland.
Each of them professes to be running his own campaign independent of the national forces at the top of the ticket, but Democrats think that they can use certain votes by the Republicans to tie them to Trump's most controversial positions.
Although control of the Senate is up for grabs, Republicans have built a comfortable House majority in recent midterm elections. Analysts predict it will take a substantial anti-Trump wave to wipe out that majority.
But Democrats see a potential opportunity for a wave, given Trump's habit of stoking controversy. He did it again Wednesday, resurfacing an issue that he and his campaign had tried to put to rest: his tweeting of an image that many said was anti-Semitic.
Trump said at a rally that his campaign should not have deleted the tweet containing the image, returning the matter to the forefront of the national political conversation at a time many Republicans would rather talk about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
The 10 districts targeted by Democrats represent the two types that they think are their path back to the majority, either in November or in the years ahead. They focus on well-educated, suburban areas, such as Comstock's in Northern Virginia and Coffman's to the east of Denver, and those with large pockets of Latino voters, including Hurd's district along the Mexican border, and Curbelo's heavily Cuban seat in South Florida.