ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-night
76°
Thunderstorms
H 84° L 76°
  • clear-night
    76°
    Current Conditions
    Thunderstorms. H 84° L 76°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    83°
    Afternoon
    Thunderstorms. H 84° L 76°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    80°
    Evening
    Thunderstorms. H 84° L 76°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Democrats worry as Trump unleashes money on 2020 digital ads
Close

Democrats worry as Trump unleashes money on 2020 digital ads

Democrats worry as Trump unleashes money on 2020 digital ads
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday June 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Democrats worry as Trump unleashes money on 2020 digital ads

While Democrats wage a wide open primary , President Donald Trump is blanketing battleground states with online advertising that could help set the narrative heading into the 2020 campaign.

The blitz of ads run recently in states including Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania alarms some Democrats. They're worried by the more than $10 million Trump and his allies have already spent on digital advertising, a drop compared with the $1 billion his campaign could spend by Election Day.

For now, the ads are going largely unanswered as Democrats focus on their primary that's just getting into full swing. But Trump's early head start combined with his massive fundraising operation has stirred concern that it could be difficult for the eventual nominee to catch up.

"The real concern here is that Trump is able to have unchallenged positions when it comes to issues that a lot of voters care about," said Tara McGowan, the founder and CEO of ACRONYM, a progressive group that specializes in digital campaigns. "We are going to see outside (Democratic) groups start to spend with offensive and defensive messages, but I worry that it's still not going to be enough to compete with the infrastructure the right has."

Many of the ads are chock full of conservative red meat, focused on building a border wall with Mexico, vilifying Democrats' investigation of Trump's 2016 campaign as a "witch hunt" and attacking the news media. A recent series that could resonate in manufacturing states portrays Trump as tough on China by declaring that the "days of cowering down to China are over."

Others appear aimed at softening his image, especially on issues related to race. The ads are unlikely to persuade African Americans to support Trump by large margins but could ease concern among moderate and suburban voters the president will need to win reelection — many of whom voted for Democrats during last year's midterms.

One battleground ad, viewed as many as 1 million times, shows footage of a White House event commemorating Trump's signature of a criminal justice overhaul . The president grins as Gregory Allen, an African American former prisoner who was released under the law, praises him for "continuing to make America great again."

In another, a middle-aged black actor plays "Howard from New Mexico," who thanks Trump for restoring his faith in the country. And in a third, a multiracial collage of people are all seen liking a social media post by "Melissa from Florida," who tells Trump that he makes her proud to be an American.

Trump's campaign denies they are trying to soften his image.

"We are happily sharing the president's record on improving health care, protecting preexisting conditions, enforcing the border and laws on the books, and giving 90% of Americans more money in their paychecks," said campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine.

Few expect Democratic candidates enmeshed in the primary to compete with Trump head-on when it comes to digital advertising. That will fall to outside groups and the Democratic National Committee until a nominee is chosen.

But while groups like Priorities USA and American Bridge plan to spend big, they have yet to ramp up. The DNC was carrying $6.2 million in debt with just $7.5 million on hand at the end of April, compared to the Republican National Committee's $34.7 million. And many donors have yet to go all in on a specific candidate.

Trump's campaign, meanwhile, has outspent each individual Democratic candidate by more than fourfold since January, when the primary unofficially kicked off, according to an analysis of data compiled by Bully Pulpit Interactive. In many battlegrounds, he's outspent most by at least double since March, the data shows.

"Now is the time you have to fire people up, explain the stakes and tell them what the other side is doing," said Rufus Gifford, who was finance director for President Barack Obama's campaign in 2012. "Scaring people is absolutely appropriate because the threat is real."

Still, others say such dire predictions are premature.

"Party fundraising is always difficult when you are out of power and a year and half out from the election," said Tom Nides, a prominent fundraiser and former Hillary Clinton adviser. "We will not win or lose because of money."

Priorities USA, the largest Democratic outside group, says it plans to launch an initial $100 million phase of its anti-Trump effort this summer. The group declined to say how much it has raised but spent about $200 million during the 2016 race.

Others worry donors are neglecting the DNC, which was roiled by turmoil and distrust in 2016 after hackers with ties to Russia leaked emails revealing the party favored Clinton over her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Robert Zimmerman, a prominent donor and DNC committeeman from New York, said the fundraising and spending gap is real. He says donors need to overcome their misgivings and step up contributions to avoid a repeat.

"It's profoundly worrisome, but right now it's not getting attention because everyone is focused on the presidential race," he said. "(Chairman) Tom Perez has got to make the case that the DNC is an essential piece of the equation and we can't wait for our nominee to be picked."

Following the discord of 2016, DNC officials say Perez has worked to rebuild the operation after inheriting an organization that had only three fundraising staffers. Although their Republican counterparts regularly outraise them, that doesn't always translate into winning, they say.

"Will the RNC outraise us? Yes, they will. Does that mean they are going to win? Absolutely not," said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. "That didn't happen in 2018, that didn't happen 2017, that didn't happen in Alabama. Time and time again, they have not proven to us since 2016 that they can win with the resources they have."

___

Follow Brian Slodysko on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BrianSlodysko

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A man is facing several charges after police said he dragged an officer during a traffic stop, reaching 60 miles per hour. The video shows officer John Murphy with the Orlando Police Department speaking with Zavier Askew during a traffic stop near College Drive and Willie Mays Parkway. Officer Murphy initially pulled Askew over on May 9, 2019 for an expired tag.  The officer later asks Askew to to get out of the vehicle and pats him down after having him stand by his patrol car. Murphy then searches the glove compartment inside the vehicle and allegedly discovers 'a large vacuum seal bag of pot.' Vials of cannabis oil, a scale and multiple baggies were also allegedly found. As Murphy walks back to Askew, the video then allegedly shows Askew run back to the car, jumping in the drivers seat and accelerating, dragging Murphy with him. 'Dude you're killing me,' the officer can be heard saying as his legs were being dragged outside the vehicle. 'Stop! This is attempted murder!'  A minute into the drive, Askew finally stops and is placed in handcuffs. 'I'm bleeding I think,' Murphy can be heard saying. 'You almost killed me.' App users click here to see the video. Another officer arrives as backup and to help with the arrest. Askew faces six charges, including attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.  He is being held at the Orange County Jail on no bond. 
  • Deputies from the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama found what they call a  caged ‘attack squirrel’ during a raid on a suspected drug house. Officials believe two suspects who lived in the home fed the animal meth to keep it aggressive. A video shows the long tailed guy jumping around his cage while the deputy reports in saying “I’m dodging a crazy squirrel right now.” Animal control was called in to assist and ultimately decided the squirrel should be released into the wild. They were not able to test it for meth consumption prior to its release, citing safety concerns. This may give new meaning to the term “Wild animal.” App users click here to see the video. One  suspect who lived in the home was arrested, a second man fled the scene.  Officials reported they recovered other drugs, body armor and ammunition from the home.
  • A Missouri man who pleaded guilty to molesting an 11-year-old girl will not be going to prison, a judge decided last week. According to the Jefferson City News Tribune, Judge Calvin Holden on Friday sentenced Joseph Meili, 22, of Russellville, to five years of supervised probation after Meili pleaded guilty to a third-degree child molestation charge. Authorities said Meili sexually assaulted the girl at a Springfield apartment in July 2017 after the pair met on a dating app, the News Tribune reported. >> Read more trending news During the incident, police were looking for the child, who had been reported missing, authorities said. She was found after she returned to her Republic home to pack a bag, according to the Springfield News-Leader. The girl told investigators that she had fallen asleep while she was with Meili, the News Tribune reported. When she woke up, she felt like a sexual encounter had occurred, she told authorities. The girl later told police that she and Meili had had sex, HuffPost reported. A test also confirmed that the child had chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, authorities said. Meili, who initially was arrested on kidnapping, statutory rape and statutory sodomy charges, said the girl's dating profile said she was 18, the News-Leader reported. Those charges were dropped as part of Meili's plea deal. Meili's attorney, Scott Pierson, said the girl had 'essentially catfished' his client by lying about her age, according to the News-Leader. 'He felt horrible about the entire incident,' Pierson told HuffPost of Meili, who is now a registered sex offender. But Elizabeth Fax, an attorney with the Greene County Prosecutor's Office, was skeptical. 'I think dating apps make it easier to get into these types of situations, to be sure, but to actually see her in person. ... He knew and just decided to go along with it anyway,' Fax told HuffPost.
  • Video posted on youtube by Laura Loomer shows a man in a F-trump t-shirt being cuffed and frisked by Orlando police Tuesday, after he allegedly assaulted a Trump supporter who was waiting in line outside the Amway Center. The video was taken by Illoominate Media reporter, Jacob Engels who can be heard saying “plenty of witnesses saw you kick the other person.” Another witness can be heard saying  “ It’s not funny now, huh?” App users click here to watch the video.  Thousands of people crowded into downtown Orlando to support the presidents re-election bid or to protest the event. Most were peaceful. 
  • A convicted rapist was released from jail on the promise he’d return to Mexico, but instead attacked his victim, who uses a wheelchair, again three days after his release, according to deputies in Washington state. Now, he’s on the run again, authorities said.  King County sheriff’s deputies are asking for the public’s help finding 35-year-old Francisco Carranza-Ramirez. He’s listed in court documents as a 5-foot-8, 140-pound white male with brown eyes and black hair. >> Read more trending news Carranza-Ramirez was released from jail on June 13 in the rape case from September 2018.  The defense asked the court to not impose community custody because he wanted to return to Mexico. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended community custody – meaning Carranza-Ramirez would still be released with conditions.  King County Superior Court Judge Nicole A. Gaines Phelps agreed to let him go with credit for time served and no community custody, as long as Carranza-Ramirez would provide proof that he returned to Mexico. A review hearing for the conditions of his release was scheduled for June 25.  As part of his June 13 guilty plea in the rape case, Carranza-Ramirez was the subject of a sexual assault protection order to keep him away from the victim for five years.  Carranza-Ramirez violated the protection order by being within 1,000 feet of the victim two days after his release, deputies said.  “The following day, the suspect assaulted the victim, knocking her out of her wheelchair, strangled her and threatened to kill her,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott said in a statement.  Deputies arrived at the scene but said Carranza-Ramirez fled and was not located.  Detectives said they believe he is in the White Center area and is homeless. On Tuesday, prosecutors filed charges of second-degree assault , felony harassment, intimidating a witness and violation of a sexual assault protection order against Carranza-Ramirez.  Anyone with information on Carranza-Ramirez’s location is asked to call 911.

Washington Insider

  • Even as President Donald Trump and top Republicans in Congress call on Democratic leaders in the U.S. House to allow a vote on a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, the President's top trade negotiator told Senators on Tuesday that there's still no set date for when the agreement would be submitted to the Congress 'I believe we're on track, I believe we are making progress,' said United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Asked by a GOP Senator about discussions with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lighthizer gave no public hint about any problems. 'My hope is that over the course of the next several weeks, that we can make substantial progress,' Lighthizer added, as he said talks with Pelosi had been 'constructive.' Democrats have been pressing the Trump Administration over the enforcement of new labor reforms in Mexico, worried that the government won't adequately enforce the changes. Asked by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) when to expect a vote in Congress, Lighthizer gave no concrete date - as the trade agreement has not yet been formally submitted to the Congress. At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Lighthizer faced some verbal slings and arrows from both parties about the President's trade policies. 'I do not agree that tariffs should be the tool we use in every instance to achieve our trade policy goals,' said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). 'China's market is now more closed off to American goods and American agriculture than before the trade war began,' said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), as he complained about the impact of the President's tweets on trade policy. For the most part, Lighthizer did not engage in pitched battles with Democrats over trade matters, repeatedly stressing common ground over trade disputes with China and final talks over the USMCA trade deal. As for China, Lighthizer made clear that President Trump isn't bluffing when it comes to additional tariffs on Chinese goods, acknowledging to Senators that the next round could have a bigger impact, to include items like laptop computers and cell phones. Lighthizer could have a somewhat more partisan reception on Wednesday, when he testifies on the same issues before the House Ways and Means Committee.