First on CNN: With new strategy, Trump super PAC returns to TV

Story highlights

  • Rebuilding America Now has struggled to win over high-dollar donors
  • The group says it now plans to focus on positive messaging

Washington (CNN)Rebuilding America Now, the main super PAC backing Donald Trump, is returning to the television airwaves amid a major shift in strategy about how it plans to back the GOP nominee.

The super PAC has begun purchasing advertising time in Pennsylvania to begin later this week, according to a media buying source. After spending $13 million on television, the PAC has not been airing advertisements for almost three weeks, per advertising records.
    The group did not respond to a request for comment on their advertising plans. It has purchased nearly $100,000 in four Pennsylvania markets so far: Pittsburgh, Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Harrisburg and Erie.
    Rebuilding America Now, led by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, has struggled to win over high-dollar donors ever since the departure of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chief, who endorsed the group. And Mike Pence's campaign, who once praised the group "one of the best ways" to back Trump, has told CNN that he is now not assisting their efforts, though he did not explain why.
    Any revival of the PAC will be closely watched by Trump donors and Republicans eager to see a group that can support Trump on television, where he is still being badly outspent by Hillary Clinton's campaign. And the new ad campaign will shed light on how his main big-money group plans to portray the candidates in the final eight weeks.
    The group said in a strategy memo to donors earlier this month obtained by CNN that it now plans to focus on positive messaging, rather than the negative ads it had spent the summer blasting on the airwaves.
    The group did polling and found that spots stressing Trump's background and plans tested better than traditional attacks on Clinton, the memo said.
    "We can't burn down the same house twice: Both Clinton and Trump have unfavorable ratings we've never seen before," the super PAC's strategists wrote. "If this campaign remains one in which we only match our negative ads against their negative ads, we will conduct WWI: Trench warfare where both sides struggle to move a few inches."
    A rival Trump super PAC has largely taken that tack already: Great America PAC, which has concentrated on biographical, soft Trump spots and is beginning a $2.2 million television campaign this week.
    And there are signs that it is that group -- which originally had an ally in former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski -- is on the rise. Eric Trump, the candidate's son, attended a Great America fundraiser Tuesday held at a bar in Trump Tower, according to a source familiar with the event, perhaps signaling that Great America is now the super PAC of choice.