Trump’s Reelection Campaign Halts Ad Spending, Reviews Strategy

Donald Trump in front of the White House

Key Points:
  • Less than 100 days before Election Day, the Trump campaign has halted advertising spending while staffers review its strategy.
  • The president demoted former campaign manager Brad Parscale in mid-July, replacing him with Bill Stepien, though the messaging has remained mostly the same since.
  • The Trump campaign’s decision to halt spending comes as a response to poll numbers and may be part of a larger overall plan for a new path to victory.
  • There are also rumors about Joe Biden’s declining health that may play a role in pausing older ad campaigns.

The 2020 presidential election is a once-in-a-lifetime ordeal. Starting from his shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, nothing about the Trump administration has been conventional. Everything from the coalition the NY real estate developer and reality TV show host built to dominate the Republican primaries to the four-year-long media meltdown after their “Pied Piper” experiment backfired has been odd.

Then came the global pandemic, nationwide protests or riots (depending on your partisan leanings), and an economic recession that’s putting 2008-09 to shame. Leaving us with an incumbent with a 40% approval rating and 80% of the country telling pollsters they believe the US is going in the wrong direction. Yet, somehow Trump isn’t out of the 2020 general election!

With all that weirdness at play, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the Trump campaign has gone dark on television and radio with less than 100 days to go until Election Day. Or that they’ve been dramatically decreasing spending in Michigan, a crucial battleground state, through July.

From NBC News:

“After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a week running ads in Michigan through June and half of July, the campaign dropped that to just $78,000 for the week of July 14 and to less than $10,000 the week of July 21.”

Trump’s unexpected win in Michigan played a vital role in delivering the White House to the Republican candidate in 2016. It was thought to be equally important to his “path to victory” this time around. However, after falling between 8 and 12 points behind Biden in a consistent string of statewide polls, the campaign may believe their cash would be better spent elsewhere.

Pausing Ad Buys

Last week, reporters noticed Advertising Analytics data reflected virtually no campaign spending on TV or radio from the Trump campaign. Furthermore, the incumbent’s team hasn’t booked any advertisements through August.


Joe Biden spent $3.9 million during that same two-day period and has another $6 million scheduled for August.

The Trump campaign says the ad freeze is part of “a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy,” underway since Brad Parscale was demoted as campaign manager mid-July and replaced by Bill Stepien.

“With the leadership change in the campaign, there’s understandably a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy. We’ll be back on the air shortly, even more forcefully exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left-wing,” a Trump campaign official told NBC News.

That quote suggests Trump will continue attacking his Democratic challenger on crime while attempting to paint Joe Biden as a Trojan Horse, hoping to deliver far-left ideologues into the Oval Office.

Attacking Biden

While the “law and order” playbook may have a place in the Trump campaign’s playbook, I’ve long argued that the attempts to equate Biden with socialism is a fool’s errand.

Besides the fact that the entirety of the 77-year-old’s career in politics has said otherwise, the attacks can’t stick when Joe is simultaneously under fire from the left-wing of his own party for not adopting any of Bernie Sanders’s policies.

The Democratic Policy Committee just shot down every progressive core policy. How are the Republicans going to paint a man who was consistently the most conservative Dem in the Senate as a far-left, commie-loving nut?

Republicans have also attempted to tie Biden to efforts to “defund the police,” which arose from the wave of demonstrations sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, the presumptive Democratic is on the record as saying he doesn’t support sweeping budget cuts to police departments. His plan for criminal justice reform spends even more on policing!

“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded. He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates.

Biden wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that instituted many of our “tough on crime” policies that have inspired people to call for reform today. Nobody believes he’s suddenly an Antifa-supporting anarchist who wants to do away with policing.

A Winning Path

If anything, Trump should be pulling up the former Vice President’s record and using it to drive a wedge between Biden and Bernie Sanders supporters.

A meaningful chunk of Bernie’s primary voters flipped to the Republican ticket in the 2016 general election and could be convinced to again, with the right message.

Those voters could also be won over by the handful of populist measures Trump enacted during his time in office, to very little fanfare.

For example, eight days after entering office, he signed an executive order banning members of his administration from lobbying for foreign governments for life. They’re also banned for five years from all other forms of lobbying.

He also signed four executive orders recently aimed at lowering prescription drug costs.

  • “The first order will require federal community health centers to pass the giant discounts they received from drug companies on insulin and EpiPens directly to their patients. You know insulin became so expensive people weren’t able to use it. They desperately needed it,” Trump announced.
  • His second order “will allow states, wholesalers, and pharmacies to do something other politicians have promised for decades and decades but never done…allow the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where the price for the identical drug is incredibly lower.”

    That has massive potential to save American’s money on prescriptions. Now, when pharmaceutical companies price-gouge, residents in the US have other options.

    “It is a difference like you would not believe – 70%, 80%, 90%. 30% – but massively lower than the identical drug made in the same plant, same factory, same exact drug, same everything, same box, same pill, and yet, it’s 50, 60, 70% lower,” the president said.

  • The third executive order stops intermediaries from purchasing drugs with Medicare discounts, while still charging patients full price, allowing them to pocket the difference.
  • “The fourth and final order I am signing today is the granddaddy of them all,” Trump said, and “will end global freeloading on the backs of American patients and American seniors.”

    “For decades our citizens have paid the highest prices for drugs, prescription drugs, anywhere in the world, and it is not even close. Foreign nations have paid vastly less for the exact same drug again and the exact same box from the exact same plant, from the exact same company. They would pay 10%, 20%, 30%. What our people are paying a pill that would sell for one dollar in certain countries,” the president said.

    His final executive order requires Medicare to buy drugs at the same prices as countries.

Again –

Why aren’t these accomplishments being trumpeted on a continuous loop of campaign ads?

The prescription drug orders are measures Democrats have been discussing and failing to pass for years!

Throw in his sustained resistance to starting new wars and his thwarted attempts to bring troops home, and you have a winning campaign message!

Biden Rumors

It’s possible that the Trump campaign’s decision to stop ad spending has less to do with strategy and more to do with their target.

Joe Biden’s recent press conference showed a man desperately trying to keep it together, to little avail.

He is visibly declining at a rapid rate, and the whispers from within the candidate’s camp are getting louder. He’s already slipped significantly since the Democratic primaries began. It will only get more challenging to hide from the public as we get closer to Election Day.

Could it be that the Trump campaign is saving their attacks until they know Biden’s replacement?
Will Cormier / Author

Will Cormier is a sports and political betting writer living in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. When he’s not wandering around the streets of the Arts District aimlessly, a lifetime of pessimism and paranoia has made Will perfectly suited for handicapping politics. Cormier tries to analyze current events as objectively as possible – a strategy that often enrages loyalists on both the right and the left. When he’s not covering major upcoming elections, Will enjoys writing about basketball, football, and MMA from a betting perspective. He also loves dogs, ice cream sundaes, the movie “Stomp the Yard,” and long walks on the beach.