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Screen grabs from America First Action's #BeijingBiden ad campaign.

A leading pro-Trump super PAC is testing a new ad campaign to paint Joe Biden as soft on China and redirect criticism of President Trump’s coronavirus response.

Driving the news: Beginning Friday, America First Action will spend $10 million in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — which yielded pivotal but bare victories for Trump in 2016 — to brand the presumptive Democratic nominee as “Beijing Biden” and see what sticks.

  • These states all have been impacted economically by China in terms of jobs, manufacturing or steel.

Why it matters: The ads come as Trump campaign officials lay plans to try to make the general election campaign more about the former vice president's past approaches to China than Trump's response to the coronavirus, or Trump's own approaches to China.

Details: The ads, previewed by Axios, are slightly different for each state, to target different audiences. They attack Biden for "his weakness" on China and globalist ideals, which the group charges led to "hundreds of thousands of jobs" being sent overseas.

  • Each ad shows a clip of Biden speaking at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, in 2011: “I believed in 1979 . . . and I believe now that a rising China is a positive development," he said.
  • A spokesperson for America First Action tells Axios that the PAC has already poll-tested these themes, and as the ads air will continue monitoring their performance.
  • The group is simultaneously unveiling a new website, "BeijingBiden.com," carrying opposition research that highlight's Biden's ties to China and China's failures in addressing the pandemic.

Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, told Axios: “Joe Biden called on Donald Trump to lead. He publicly urged him not to believe China's spin about the worst public health crisis in over 100 years, and to insist that our CDC experts be given access there.

  • “Instead, despite repeated warnings from our intelligence agencies and medical experts, Trump spent vital weeks praising China's response as successful and transparent while deceiving the American people about the extreme threat we faced and failing to prepare our country,“ Bates added.

By the numbers: The digital, cable, broadcast and mail campaign will continue until through the end of May. The breakdown:

  • Michigan: $2 million spent in the Traverse City, Flint and Grand Rapids media markets. This ad states that Biden "attacked" Trump over his January ban on travel to China, and shows Biden accusing Trump of "xenophobia and fear mongering.” (As fact checkers have pointed out, Biden made no reference to the China travel restrictions when making these comments and never said he opposed them).
  • Wisconsin: $2.7 million spent in the Wausau, La Crosse and Green Bay media markets. It has a greater focus on U.S. manufacturing jobs and how "America must stop" Chinese growth.
  • Pennsylvania: $5.5 million spent in the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Erie and Wilkes-Barre media markets. It states that "China is killing our jobs, stealing technology, putting America’s health in danger," juxtaposed against a clip of Biden saying "They’re not bad folks."

Be smart: Beijing's flawed coronavirus response has exacerbated public outrage toward China.

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.