President Donald Trump’s allies are increasingly embracing his argument that Democrats have become a “mob” heading into the final stretch of the midterm election, echoing his incendiary language in the hopes of motivating Republican voters to head to the polls in just three weeks.
America First Policies, the non-profit arm of the political action committee aligned with Trump, will launch a multi-state ad buy Tuesday aimed at turning out voters across 15 states with competitive Senate or congressional races. The $1.2 million digital campaign’s first spot, titled “Division by Intimidation,” will feature Democrats and protesters engaging in the kind of tactics Trump has sought to highlight during his most recent campaign stops.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether a left-wing mob exists in America. This powerful ad will leave no doubt that it does,” said Erin Montgomery, the group’s spokesperson.
The mob-themed turnout effort comes as Trump ramps up his rhetoric about Democratic tactics in the wake of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation battle. Republicans across the country have sought to capitalize on the surge in enthusiasm among GOP voters generated by Kavanaugh’s controversial installment on the high court earlier this month.
Trump allies argue the divisive rhetoric could help Republicans motivate potential voters across the GOP spectrum and not just members of Trump’s dedicated base. “These kinds of messages are going to have just as much impact in the middle as they are on the right,” said Marc Lotter, a former spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence and a frequent Trump defender on cable news.
But critics of the President have said Trump and Republicans are only stoking division by painting their opponents as extremists, and have pointed to Trump and his supporters own violent rhetoric. And some Democrats believe the Kavanaugh battle boosted their own side by similarly raising the left’s energy and reminding voters of the consequences of electoral losses.
The President has used opposition to Kavanaugh to underpin what has become a central message in his closing argument to voters.
“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob, and that’s what they’ve become,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Kansas the day Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Four days later in Erie, Pennsylvania, Trump touted what he described as his success in office before warning voters that his winning streak could end if Republicans lose.
“I need your help this Election Day, November 6, to stop the radical Democrat mob from trying to take it away,” Trump said. “And they’re going to try and take it away.”
In Lebanon, Ohio, on Friday, Trump used the Kavanaugh saga to draw a contrast between the GOP and Democrats: “Republicans believe in the rule of law, not the rule of the mob.”
And Trump quoted conservative commentator Ben Shapiro Monday in his first tweet of the week, hammering home his midterm message: “The only way to shut down the Democrats new Mob Rule strategy is to stop them cold at the Ballot Box. The fight for America’s future is never over!”
Republican leaders have amplified Trump’s narrative. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted on Thursday a video by the Republican National Committee showing clips of various Democratic lawmakers and activists protesting and urging confrontations with Republicans.
“Democrat Party leaders are riling up the left’s angry mob,” she said. “Their calls for chaos have gone too far.”
A source familiar with America First’s get-out-the-vote efforts said Gingrich Productions, former House speaker and Trump ally Newt Gingrich’s company, found the mob message effective in focus groups before producing the digital video. The ads will be aimed at low propensity Republican voters – people who vote infrequently – and the source said focus group tests found the mob message successful even among that category of less polarized voters.
America First’s mobilization ads will play across nine congressional districts, almost all of which Trump won in 2016, with the exception of Republican Rep. Pete Sessions’ district in Texas where the President lost by a single point.
Democrats have enjoyed an advantage in voter enthusiasm and generic ballot polls for months, contributing to many analysts’ predictions that the GOP House majority is in danger. Some polling conducted after the Kavanaugh confirmation, however, has suggested the enthusiasm gap could be narrowing as Election Day closes in and Republicans push dire warnings about the consequences of Democratic victories.
Corry Bliss – executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, said GOP House candidates have experienced movement across the board as Trump and other Republicans have hammered the home the implications of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight.
“In the last three weeks, we’ve seen an undeniable improvement in our numbers across the country,” Bliss said. “The President’s numbers have improved on average, five points per district. The enthusiasm gap has closed. We’re doing better with independents.”
Bliss said Republicans’ goal now is to maintain the post-Kavanaugh energy for three more weeks, when voters cast their ballots.