Joe Biden has rolled out a TV advertisement focused exclusively on combating climate change ― a global crisis that his opponent, President Donald Trump, has spent the last three-plus years trying to sow doubt about.
The ad, which the Democratic nominee’s campaign is airing in northern Michigan, a key battleground state, highlights the mounting threat that planetary warming poses to U.S. farmers. It features John King, co-owner of a family fruit orchard in Central Lake, Michigan, that specializes in tart cherries.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty in being a farmer,” King says in the ad. “We’re having more challenges in tart cherries than ever before. As I think about my grandchildren and the world we live in, I think it’s very important to adopt measures to mitigate climate change.”
Montmorency tart cherry trees are susceptible to the extreme weather events that already plague the Midwest and that scientists warn will become more frequent as the planet continues to warm. Spring cold snaps wiped out nearly the entire tart cherry crop in northern Michigan in 2002 and 2012, NPR reported.
The Biden campaign has invested big in Michigan, a state that Trump won in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes. Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, stopped at King Orchards as part of a Sept. 29 visit to two rural counties in northern Michigan that Trump secured four years ago.
“It’s unbelievable that we have a president who just won’t admit climate change exists,” Jill Biden said during an appearance in Traverse City, according to local news outlet MLive.com.
In a Facebook post about Jill Biden’s visit, King Orchards highlighted the many ways climate change has affected the farm over the last two decades, from drought and severe storms to cold snaps that kill young trees. The owners said that while they “rarely mix business with politics,” they do “make exceptions when it comes to climate change and protecting our environment.”
“We are really proud to be cherry farmers,” Mike King, one of John King’s sons, says in the Biden campaign ad. “If we are unable to do that based on the climate, it would really strip away what is so unique about this area.”
A recent survey by Public Policy Polling found two-thirds of voters in eight battleground states, including Michigan, say addressing the climate threat should be a priority of the next president. And while Trump has doubled down on denial ahead of the November election, Biden has made tackling the crisis a key part of his campaign. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Biden is considering establishing a new White House office to coordinate a national climate action plan.
Biden’s campaign has put out at least five other TV ads stressing that fighting climate change would be a top priority of a Biden administration, according to a tally by advocacy group Climate Power 2020. But the new spot, titled “Cherries,” is his first focused entirely on climate.
It appears to be the first climate-focused TV ad from a presidential nominee since John McCain, the late GOP senator from Arizona, ran one during the 2008 election.
Climate advocacy groups celebrated the Biden ad as a victory for the movement.
“Young people have been fighting for climate to be a top issue & now we’re starting to see that happen,” the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate activist organization pushing for a Green New Deal, wrote in a post to Twitter. “In 2016 a presidential ad focused on climate was dream & now it’s a reality. We have the power to keep pushing & demanding more.”
The two presidential candidates’ stark differences on the issue were on full display during the first of three presidential debates last Tuesday. Whereas Biden laid out his plan to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and create high-paying green jobs, Trump regurgitated go-to talking points about “immaculate air and immaculate water” and, once again, blamed record-breaking wildfires in the West solely on poor forest management.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that Biden’s ad is the first-ever climate-focused ad from a U.S. presidential nominee. John McCain ran one in 2008.