For months, Democrats outside of Hillary Clinton’s campaign have urged the candidate to fine-tune her attacks on Donald Trump by framing him more as a phony populist than someone uniquely unqualified to be president.
As Clinton started making the turn during the first presidential debate, she was given an assist from Trump himself.
The Republican nominee boasted on the stage that he was “smart” for avoiding federal income taxes. The New York Times reported less than a week later that he likely hadn’t done so in 18 years, owing to a $916 million loss he incurred in 1995.
Good campaigns capitalize on an emerging narrative ― and on Monday, Clinton super PAC Priorities USA turned that debate moment into a new television ad.
The spot, which will run in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado, features an Ohio woman wondering if Trump would deem her stupid for paying taxes at all ― a talking point Democrats have been using since last week’s debate.
“We have schools that need money and roads that need to be fixes and veterans that need help,” the woman, Marly Hittepole, says to camera. “I want a president who’s proud of our country, not a president who’s proud of getting out of paying taxes.”
Priorities USA shot the ad before the Times released its story. The paper’s investigation was a fortuitous break that prompted the PAC to put the spot together quickly.
The ad will be placed in a rotation the group is running in those battleground states. An aide with the super PAC estimates that the group still has $40 million of ad space reserved on TV.
Of the states where the ad is set to air, Colorado is the most intriguing. Priorities USA had pulled out of that state when polling showed Clinton with a healthy lead. Those polls have since tightened. But the group had always planned on returning. Its co-chair and chief strategist, Guy Cecil, told The Huffington Post in mid-September: “We are already slated to go back up in Colorado in October. No plans to go up earlier.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.