I will confess that I am a huge fan of the Lincoln Project's anti-Trump ads. They are exceptionally well done and as an added bonus, they are enraging Trump and have the potential to drive him to do something stupid that will boomerang and bite him in the ass. Indeed, I have donated to the Lincoln Project and would encourage others who despise Trump to do so as well (you can make a donation here). A piece in Politico looks at the Lincoln Project - whose members to me represent what the GOP once was - and its success in driving Trump to distraction. Whether it can change votes remains to be seen, but the hard hitting and all to accurate ads certainly cannot hurt in the effort to send Trump into a much needed forced retirement. Here are article excerpts:
PresidentDonald Trump started tweeting at 12:46 a.m. about the “RINO Republicans” at the Lincoln Project who’d just run an ad attacking his response to the pandemic, Reed Galen knew his hunch was right: you can trigger a Trump freakout with a little bit of planning and pop psychology.
Galen had co-founded the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump PAC run by Republicans, with the goal of convincing Americans to vote against him in November. In May, the group thought Trump’s response to the pandemic had created the perfect opportunity to both make their case. Off of a brainwave that cofounder George Conway had during a conversation with his wife, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Galen and his small team guessed Trump would be particularly enraged by an in-the-moment ad that portrayed the president as making Americans “weaker, sicker and poorer” than ever before. And they figured the best bet to get to [Trump]
the presidentwould be to target Trump where he was, Washington, D.C., on the channel he watches, Fox News, when he was most likely to be watching, at night.
What they hadn’t expected, though, was that Trump would single out nearly every person involved in the Lincoln Project by name — Kellyane Conway’s “deranged loser of a husband, Moonface” Conway, “Crazed” Rick Wilson, “LOSERS” who had consulted for “loser” candidates.
To Galen, it was a sign that the Lincoln Project — the first phase, at least — was working.
“It's not just pissing off Donald Trump. Anybody could do that,” Galen said in an interview, though he admitted to “a modicum of enjoyment” from being the topic of midnight tweetstorm. “It's, to what effect? Like, why are you doing it? And the point is to take him off his game and take his campaign off their game, strategically and tactically, so that the Biden campaign and Joe Biden can have the freedom of movement and the green air to do the things that they need to do.”
In the past few months, the Lincoln Project — a PAC with not much funding, as far as PACs go — has successfully established itself as a squatter in Trump’s mental space, thanks to several factors: members each boasting hundreds of thousands of social media followers, rapidly cut ads that respond to current events and a single-minded focus on buying airtime wherever Trump is most likely to be binging cable news that day, whether it’s the D.C. market or his golf courses across the country. And every time Trump freaks out — or every time the media covers his freakout — the Lincoln Project scores an incalculable amount of earned media, and millions of views online to boot.
But though the PAC has successfully caught Trump’s attention — The Daily Beast reported the campaign spent $400,000 on ads in the D.C. market in part so Trump would feel less threatened by Lincoln Project ads — Trump’s critics worry that the ads, as well cut and as troll-effective as they are, may not actually work to “prosecute the case” against his re-election, as the group vowed to do back in December.
With the pandemic, however, Trump has made the case against himself, Galen argued. From his early dismissals of the burgeoning outbreak to his suggestion that injecting “disinfectant” into the lungs might help fight coronavirus, and his flat-out insistence that he wanted to slow testing down in order to suppress the number of COVID-19 cases, the president has generated his own attack ad copy.
“We already had a plan in place which was prosecute him, prosecute him, prosecute him,” Galen said. “The difference is that he became a much weaker defendant, all on his own, because of his own faults.”
Two-thirds of its TV spending is focused on the presidential race, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. The spots both boost Biden and eviscerate Trump. Notably, though, the group’s most recent ad — which is currently pinned to the top of its Twitter account — lionizes Biden’s leadership qualities.
The group's mission to troll [Trump]
the presidentis evident in its ad buys. Its longest sustained presence on TV is a series of ads that have played nearly non-stop since early March on cable stations in Washington, D.C., aimed at its audience of one. The group has spent just under $380,000 on TV ads there, airing on MSNBC, Fox News and C-SPAN.
It also placed a minute-long ad in Tulsa, Okla., to coincide with the president's campaign rally there last weekend, splicing together side-by-side clips of segregationist George Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, and Trump.
And, of course, going viral online is essentially free, given the Lincoln Project’s million-plus Twitter followers, and the combined millions who all follow Conway, Wilson, Schmidt and the rest.
Galen said that a single video can get a million views in three hours, and two million by the end of the day.
“Look, Twitter's not the real world,” he conceded. “But you generate enough heat and enough energy there, it starts to spin stuff off into the real world.”
With less than 130 days before the election, and a pandemic making traditional campaigning near-impossible, it’s still unclear how — and if — the Lincoln Project can deploy the assets that it is building into something that can flip votes. After all, as Galen himself admitted, it’s not that hard to infuriate Trump with something like an ad showing him simply shuffling down a ramp and struggling to sip water.
But while the group plots that second phase, their non-traditional strategy of playing mind games with the president shall continue, Wilson declared.
“Other groups do what they do, we're here to do what we do,” he said. “And never the twain shall meet.”