Biden ads focus on COVID, Trump on unrest as campaign enters final day

Biden's ads highlight Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while Trump's focus more on protest and social unrest and Biden not condemning it.

US presidential nominee Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE AND CARLOS BARRIA)
US presidential nominee Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump
As it went down to the wire in the US presidential race, both campaigns put out impassioned last-minute ads, trying to sway voters who did not cast ballots early, and they were not pulling any punches.
Many of the ads for Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, highlighted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while Trump focused more on the demonstrations throughout the country and blamed Biden for not condemning the unrest strongly enough.
On the morning of Election Day, Biden posted a video on his website titled, “Joe Biden and Barack Obama, The Pandemic Playbook.” In it, Biden and Obama, sitting a proper social distance apart and wearing masks, discuss the book of advice on coping with a pandemic that they left for the Trump administration.
They point to specific passages in the book that recommend measures that should have been put into effect to combat the spread of the virus early on, such as using masks, limiting gatherings and social distancing. Obama notes that an office for coping with pandemics was closed, and Biden points out that while America has only 4% of the world’s population, it accounts for 20% of the pandemic deaths.
The organization, Championing America at Her Best, put out a series of anti-Trump commercials over the last few days. They show a man in a red cardigan who is a Mr. Rogers look-alike sitting in a chair and turning on the television as a sweet tune plays softly.
In one commercial, focused entirely on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the Mr. Rogers look-alike listens to Trump’s statements about and assessment of COVID-19, with clips where he says it will go away in warm weather, that it might be treatable with disinfectant and that it affects “virtually nobody,” juxtaposed with statistics about the numbers of Americans who have died and the millions who are now unemployed due to the virus. At the end, a clip of Trump saying, “No, I don’t take responsibility at all,” plays over and over.
In another ad, the Mr. Rogers doppelganger watches a kind of greatest-hits compilation of some of Trump’s most controversial and outrageous moments. It begins with Trump saying, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
It shows Trump mocking a disabled journalist, revisits the Access Hollywood tape where he boasts about molesting women and getting away with it because he is famous and includes Trump praising “fine people on both sides,” after it shows the torch-wielding demonstrators in the Charlottesville rally chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”
It shows a copy of the tax return that reveals Trump paid only $750 during two years. The moment when Trump criticized the late war hero Sen. John McCain is shown, as are clips of him talking about how much he trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin and insisting that he “fell in love” with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
At the end, the man cries, and the words “Make America” appear on the screen, and then a third word emerges and disappears, first, “Honest,” then “Kind,” and “Decent,” and finally it says, “Make America America Again.”
The funniest of the last-minute ads is one created by The Win America Back PAC (Political Action Committee), which has already gotten more than four million views on Twitter. It asks the question, “Would you hire Trump?” It shows a human-resources manager interviewing Trump (a man who looks like the president is seen in the background).
She goes over the president’s CV, and while she is impressed by the Manhattan real estate he owns and his television career, she is taken aback by the fact that his Atlantic City casino went bankrupt, the university he founded closed down amid fraud investigations, eight of his close associates were arrested or convicted of crimes, that he has been accused of sexual assault 26 times (which inspires the manager to cleanse herself with hand sanitizer), that he is $400 million in debt, that he has paid hush money to a porn star, that more than 200,000 Americans have died of coronavirus and that he “called war heroes losers.”
She puts the CV face down on her desk, the screen goes black and then the question “Would you hire Trump?” appears, followed by the words, “Vote November 3.”
Following Trump’s recovery from COVID-19, the Lincoln Project posted an ad done in the style of late-night infomercials from 40 years ago, where Trump pitches Regeneron, a drug that he received when he tested positive for the virus and which he says cured him.
Biden, who has far more celebrities and entertainers in his camp, posted an ad using the opening of rapper Eminem’s hit “Lose Yourself.” The ad, titled “One Opportunity,” is very cinematic, featuring black-and-white images of mostly young people in different settings, with just a few shots of Biden. As Eminem sings, “This opportunity comes once in a lifetime... You better...” the word, “Vote” appears on screen.
Trump tends to address voters directly through Twitter, but his campaign has created ads as well. In the past few days, the Trump campaign posted several ads stating that Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, did not condemn rioting over racial issues and “fanned the flames,” as clips of the riots and visual effects showing flames play. A man, identified as a police officer, tells viewers: “Joe Biden’s silence speaks loudly. He doesn’t have our backs.”
Another says: “In Joe Biden’s America, we’ll all be in danger. If you support the police, support Donald Trump.”
Some of Trump’s ads have a regional spin. One recent ad focuses on Biden’s promise to end fracking and features a fracking technician from the swing state of Pennsylvania who fears she will soon be out of a job.
Earlier this week, the Trump campaign posted an ad comparing Biden to his former Democratic challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and finding many similarities between the two: “Both support free healthcare for illegal immigrants... Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. A big-government Socialist and a big-government liberal. They’re more alike than you think. But at least Bernie remembers his positions.”
The last sentence is a taunting dig that references Biden’s age. Trump has suggested that Biden, 77, suffers from dementia and memory loss.
It will be interesting to see whether the campaigns will continue to create ads if there is a protracted legal battle over the outcome, as both sides have been preparing for.