Trump campaign floods digital airwaves with debate day ad blitz

Washington — In the run up to the first head-to-head presidential debate, the Trump campaign has called dibs on YouTube’s homepage, commandeering prime real estate atop the world’s second largest search engine for a full 24 hours. Part of a 7-figure digital ad blitz, the Trump campaign will spotlight a 2-minute clip from a viral YouTube video testimonial praising the president on the site’s own masthead.

The new campaign ad, entitled “I See A Way Out,” features Gary Lamb, a Black truck driver who credits the president with granting him a “second chance” after struggling with depression and financial hardship.

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A screengrab from a digital ad by President Donald Trump’s campaign for reelection shows him thanking truck driver Gary Lamb in a tweet for his YouTube video lauding the president. YouTube/Trump campaign

“I see a way out,” Lamb says in the selfie-style video. “Something I’ve never seen before. I see a way out, man. And just that little bit of hope is enough for me to have a fire in my belly powerful enough to charge the goddamn world.”

The Trump campaign has secured YouTube’s massive banner on over 20 occasions according to a campaign official, with plans to purchase the coveted ad space for a 72-hour run up to Election Day.

For more than $1 million, other new ads being released by the campaign include “Abraham Accords,” which highlights the historic diplomatic agreement ushered by the Trump administration between the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Trump campaign launches new ads 02:58

A one-minute ad, “Teleprompter Joe,” alleges that the former vice president relies on a prompter during interviews, a claim the Biden campaign has largely deflected. Both the Trump campaign and its supporters have spread deceptive and false videos attacking Biden’s mental acuity, stamina and use of teleprompter in an effort to paint the democratic rival as “fading” or “slipping” with age. 

Another ad that debuted this week, “Surrender,” accuses Biden of “surrendering” the country to the coronavirus pandemic. The selectively edited clip shows the former vice president telling ABC News he would order a national lockdown, but it leaves out the part where he’s asked whether he would take that measure if scientists recommended it.

While the Biden campaign outspent the president’s camp on television advertisements by more than 2-to-1 in September, according to CMAG/Kantar media, the president’s re-election bid continues to invest big in digital, spending over $17 million in online advertising this month alone.

“Across the entire day of the first debate, the Trump campaign has secured the most valuable piece of real estate on the Web,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CBS News. “For such a big event in the most important election of our lifetime, this YouTube masthead takeover demonstrates the stark contrast between President Trump’s record of achievement, particularly for the Black community, versus Joe Biden’s record of empty rhetoric and failure throughout nearly half a century in office.”

The prominent use of Lamb’s tribute to the president is aimed at underscoring recent efforts to court Black Americans. Mr. Trump has touted the First Step Act, new funding for historically black-colleges, and rollout of “The Platinum Plan,” his second term “promise to Black America.” The “Plan” includes a pledge to boost economic development and loan money for Black-owned small businesses, and to designate June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday.

In 2016, Mr. Trump earned 8% of the Black vote. This year the incumbent president has struggled to maintain that same level of support: Black voters overwhelmingly support his Democratic rival, according to recent CBS News Battleground Tracker polling.

The Trump campaign hopes their latest ad buy, and nationwide organizing by the 36 member “Black Voices for Trump” advisory board, will reverse that trend. “[Democrats] want to take the Black voter for granted and they have taken the Black voter for granted,” Mr. Trump told a roundtable in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday.

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