Mar 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

“Smokin’ Joe Biden”: Campaign builds on SOTU buzz

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President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump

Two scenes from Biden's new ad. Screenshots: Biden-Harris 2024

The White House and Biden campaign call this State of the Union Month, and Thursday's speech is being amplified by a $30 million ad buy (including spots during March Madness) and presidential travel to swing states — Pennsylvania Friday, Georgia Saturday.

Why it matters: The campaign wants viewers to keep seeing President Biden as a feisty fighter — "Smokin' Joe Biden," House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries called him Friday — while trying to dent former President Trump's image of strength after repeated triumphs in GOP primaries.

State of play: The first ad, "For You," out Saturday morning, juxtaposes a relaxed, smiling Biden with awkward footage of Trump.

  • "Donald Trump believes the job of the president is to take care of Donald Trump," Biden says. "I believe the job of the president is to fight for you."
  • By the end of this month, the campaign expects to surge from 100 staff members in the seven battlegrounds to 350+, with 100+ field offices, per the AP.

Zoom in: The six-week ad flight will run in the seven swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina, per the election analysis newsletter Cook Political Report.

  • The ad will run on broadcast and cable — including ESPN, TNT, FX, Adult Swim and Comedy Central — as well as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, with a focus on young voters and voters of color.

The other side: The Trump campaign's Steven Cheung said in reply to Biden's ad: "Instead of gaslighting the American people, he should apologize for all the misery and destruction he has brought."

By the numbers: 32 million people watched the State of the Union address live across 14 TV networks — 18% higher than last year's 27 million, Nielsen says.

  • 56% watched on broadcast networks ... 44% watched on cable networks.
  • Fox News won in total viewers, coming in ahead of ABC.
  • Only 5% of viewers were ages 18-34 ... 19% were 35-54 ... 74% were 55+.

Go deeper: State of the Union fuels Biden's biggest fundraising day of campaign

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