USA Business Freedom PAC, a little-known group funded last year by California gas station tycoon Nachhattar Chandi, is beginning a pitch to the nation's veterans with a pair of new spots. Trump super PACs have struggled for months to gain traction, and Chandi's spots will be only the third major advertising buy in support of Trump.
When it comes to television advertising, pro-Hillary Clinton spending is vastly outgunning pro-Trump spending. Clinton and her allies have more than $100 million in advertising reservations from now through Election Day, while Trump and his backers have merely about $1.1 million.
Chandi and his wife, Susana, gave $500,000 to the group last December through a limited liability company, and the group says it is successfully fundraising for more cash.
The PAC so far is focusing its dollars on Virginia, Florida and Ohio, along with the Chandis' native California, according to Tom Freeman, the PAC's treasurer and a Chandi aide. He said the group has a $1.3 million political budget, which will also be spent on pro-Trump billboards and in a handful of local races, including in support of House Speaker Paul Ryan in his now high-profile Wisconsin primary next week.
"Our current president doesn't have a strategy to stop terrorists. Neither does Hillary," one of the ads, shared with CNN, says. "This November, we can elect a man who will make America safe again. Donald Trump is that man."
The Chandis in the past have donated almost as much Democrats as they have to Republicans, Freeman said, but the couple is primarily motivated now by veterans' issues. They have contributed more than $480,000 to candidates and groups, with most of that money coming within the last two years.
Freeman, an Air Force veteran himself, is working with Jim Battin, a former California state senator and now a political consultant. Freeman also spoke with big-money operative Karl Rove, a friend of Battin, at the Republican National Convention last month, but said he told Rove that the Chandis would strike out on their own and not contribute to any of Rove's major super PACs.
Chandi immigrated to the United States from India and started as a cashier at a convenience store. His company is now valued at $1 billion, Freeman said.
Fundraising could always fall flat yet they are targeting the Chandis' California network of physicians, businessmen and retailers, according to Freeman. They have spent $75,000 so far, according to federal records, and expect to air radio advertisements through Election Day.
Trump has yet to air any advertisements in the general election even as he is pummeled by tens of millions of dollars from Clinton's campaign and groups supporting her. The new group has not had any contact with Trump aides, according to Freeman.