Aug 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Biden signals fall strategy with new COVID-19 ads

Joe Biden wearing a face mask
Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Gety Images

Joe Biden's campaign is doubling down on its criticism of President Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus, launching two new 30-second ads today on the heels of Biden's own call for an outdoor mask mandate.

Why it matters: With Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, now in place to amplify and augment the message, the campaign is signaling it will hit Trump on the pandemic every day until Nov. 3.

  • A campaign official tells Axios that “Ready to Lead” will run in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, weaving in Biden’s call for a universal mask mandate with a pledge to produce more protective gear in the U.S.
  • “Dignity,” will cycle into the campaign’s existing media buys targeting seniors, with cuts from Biden’s June 30 coronavirus speech played over scenes of the former vice president comforting older Americans.
  • Both, as well as a 60-second spot released yesterday, are part of existing buys worth $20m this week and $24m next week.

Go deeper: In a new campaign memo, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield says Trump has told more than 150 lies regarding the coronavirus.

  • “As Vice President Biden has said many times, the American people can face any challenge if you simply tell them the truth, but from the very beginning of this crisis President Trump has refused to be honest with the American people," she says.
  • The memo underscores the Biden campaign’s theory of the election: It will come down the coronavirus and Trump’s response to it.

Between the lines: Bedingfield's memo also signals that, if elected, Biden is prepared to tell Americans things they may not want to hear when it comes to getting the virus under control.

  • Biden suggested the same, when he acknowledged Thursday that masks are “uncomfortable” before adding that a mandate would get “our kids back to school sooner and safer.”

The other side: President Trump appears to welcome a campaign that’s contested over masks, coronavirus and the economy.

  • He accused Biden on Thursday of wanting "the president of the United States with the mere stroke of a pen to order over 300 million American citizens to wear a mask for a minimum of three straight months."
  • But Trump campaign's is more focused on painting Biden as a secret agent of the left, with new ads including footage of Biden saying: "If you elect me, your taxes are gonna be raised, not cut."
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