Biden swamps Trump on the airwaves ahead of final debate
Posted October 21, 2020 5:48 p.m. EDT
CNN — Joe Biden is off the campaign trail as he prepares for Thursday night's debate, but his campaign is pressing its advantage on the airwaves, where he is vastly outspending President Donald Trump across the map in the presidential race's final two weeks.
Biden's campaign is set to air an ad during Wednesday night's second game of the World Series -- a valuable and expensive slot that Biden also occupied in Tuesday night's game one with a positive spot voiced by actor Sam Elliott. It's part of a $4 million World Series ad buy for Biden. He'll also have an ad in this week's Thursday Night Football NFL broadcast, catching those who might not be watching the debate.
Tuesday night's ad showed Biden closing the race with a positive message, with a piano version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" playing over a montage of scenic views of the nation and Biden on the campaign trail.
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"There is only one America -- no Democratic rivers; no Republican mountains. Just this great land and all that's possible on it with a fresh start," Elliott says in the ad. "Cures we can find. Futures we can shape. Work to reward. Dignity to protect. There is so much we can do if we choose to take on problems and not each other, and choose a president who brings out our best."
"Joe Biden doesn't need everyone in this country to always agree. Just to agree we all love this country, and go from there," he says.
The prominent national ad buys are a luxury that gets Biden into every swing state at once, a valuable tool in a race in which polls show the former vice president is running ahead of or is tied with Trump in 10 states Trump won in 2016, and is defending a handful of Democratic states, as well.
"If you look at the cost of buying one ad in all of those states versus buying it nationally, you might be surprised that it is sometimes more cost effective, just given the scale and the number of states that we're up in, to actually buy spots nationally," a Biden aide said.
But Biden and Democratic groups are also swamping Trump and the GOP on the airwaves in key swing states. According to data from the ad-tracking firm CMAG, Democrats have reserved $155 million in ads in the final two weeks before the November 3 election, compared with Republicans' just $88 million.
Trump is being outspent by Biden's campaign in every battleground state except Florida and Pennsylvania -- a state where Future Forward PAC, a super PAC funded largely by Silicon Valley figures, is boosting Biden to the tune of $13 million through Election Day, more than making up the difference between Trump's $4 million and Biden's $3.6 million in ad reservations.
Trump's campaign, meanwhile, appears to have all but given up on Wisconsin, with less than $80,000 in ads booked there.
The wave of ads as tens of millions of votes are being cast follows Biden turning what had long been conventional wisdom -- that Trump would outraise and outspend his rival -- on its head. Biden and the Democratic Party outraised Trump and the GOP by $135 million in September; Biden's campaign entered October with $177 million in the bank to the Trump campaign's $63 million.
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The effect of the pro-Biden advertising crush has been to minimize Trump's ability to dominate media attention, social channels and more in the race's closing days. It also helps make up for Biden's absence from the campaign trail.
Biden has been off the trail this week as he meets with advisers and prepares for Thursday night's debate -- his second and final showdown with Trump.
A Biden adviser told CNN that in debate prep, Biden is getting ready for Trump to "bully and deflect" from the debate stage, and is also preparing for the President to go after not just Biden but his family as well.
Biden's overarching goal is similar to the first debate, the adviser added: Talk directly to the American people about how he would contain the coronavirus pandemic and rebuild the economy. He also plans to point out that Trump has been avoiding the reality of the virus's increasing spread, the adviser said.
Biden is likely to emphasize the "Park Ave. vs. Scranton" class and economic theme that he's been hitting in recent weeks.
Biden said Tuesday that he thinks the new rule instituted for Thursday's debate -- the plan to mute an opposing candidate's microphone in portions of the event while the other candidate speaks -- is a good idea, saying it should go even further.
"I think it's a good idea," Biden told CNN Milwaukee affiliate WISN. "I think there should be more limitations on us not interrupting one another."
The Democratic nominee said he will come to the debate ready to discuss issues that affect the American people and he hopes Trump will do the same. But he noted that the President seems to be signaling that it's "all gonna be about personal attacks."
"But I'm going to try very hard to focus on the issues that affect the American people and talk to them and I hope they keep the rule -- that uninterrupted two minutes," Biden said.