The group of high-profile Republican strategists-in-exile who oppose Donald Trump released another advertisement this week to get under the president’s skin, this time playing to his reported insecurities about his 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale.
“Meet Brad Parscale — from dead broke, to the man Trump can’t win without,” the narrator begins the ad entitled “GOP Cribs,” to music evocative of an MTV trailer for a new reality show.
“Brad is getting rich. How rich? Really rich!” the narrator continues, listing off recent purchases by Mr Parscale, including three Florida properties worth more than $4m, a private yacht, and a Ferrari.
Mr Parscale was the top digital media strategist for Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign. He has been widely credited with leading the online charge that helped sweep the president into office, becoming one of his closest advisers.
Mr Trump, who has a penchant for keeping the attention and credit on himself, is reportedly insecure whenever media outlets attribute his success to campaign advisers such as Mr Parscale and former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon, who ran the 2016 general election campaign.
During the 2016 election, Mr Trump believed winning the TV ad war was the name of the game, despite Mr Parscale’s insistence on buying up gobs of digital ad space.
At one point, Mr Trump accused Mr Parscale of buying digital ad space to line his own pockets at his own expense, the New York Times reported.
The political action committee (PAC) behind the ad, The Lincoln Project, has indicated that its purpose is to needle Trump into a response.
“These ads are designed to encourage him to express himself in the ways that only he can,” one of the PAC’s co-founders told The Washington Post.
The ad will run in the Washington, DC, TV market through Friday, the Post reported.
The Lincoln Project — founded in 2019 by ex-Republican operatives George Conway, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt, and others to oppose Mr Trump’s reelection bid — is the same group behind an ad earlier this month that so enraged the president that he fired off four tweets about it to his more than 80m followers.
That ad, entitled “Mourning in America” and outlining the failures of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, cost The Lincoln Project just $15,000 total — $10,000 to produce, and $5,000 to buy air time in the DC market during Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s late-night show, one of the president’s favourite programmes.
The surgical ad buys worked: Mr Trump tweeted later that same evening that The Lincoln Project was “a disgrace to Honest Abe.” He referred to the PAC’s co-founder, Mr Conway, as “a deranged loser of a husband” to senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and scorned the ad, which was modelled off a Ronald Reagan spot from 1984, for involving “no imagination.”
“They’re all LOSERS, but Abe Lincoln, Republican, is all smiles!” the president wrote of the PAC’s founders, capping off his four-tweet storm.
The publicity from the president’s tweets and their subsequent news coverage helped The Lincoln Project raise $2m from 25,000 new donors off the ad, which had collected 17m views within days, according to the PAC.
The group has reinvested its earnings from the ad to purchase air time for it in key battleground states.
“We were trying to reach one person. It was $5,000 well spent,” PAC co-founder John Weaver told multiple news outlets at the time.
Mr Weaver has worked on past presidential campaigns for former Ohio Governor John Kasich and the late Arizona Senator John McCain.
“The ad was great. It spoke the truth. But sometimes, you have to be lucky, too,” Mr Weaver said.