Anti-Trump super PAC ramps up coronavirus ad campaign in spite of legal threats

Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC pouncing on President Trump’s past comments about the novel coronavirus, intensified its efforts Friday in the face of potential litigation.

Days after Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign threatened to sue television stations that run a Priorities USA advertisement highlighting the president’s previous remarks about the coronavirus, the super PAC shared a Spanish-language version of the spot being geared toward Hispanic voters.

“The Trump campaign is doing everything possible to prevent us from seeing this announcement,” said Daniela Martins, the super PAC’s national Hispanic media director.

“Even if he tries to intimidate us, we will continue to hold Trump accountable for how his lack of leadership has put us in danger,” she said on Twitter where the ad was shared.

Priorities USA prompted Mr. Trump’s campaign to take action this week in the form of cease-and-desist letters sent to TV stations airing the original Priorities USA ad, a 30-second montage of recent sound bites of him discussing the coronavirus accompanied by a chart showing the surging number of confirmed domestic cases of the disease it causes, COVID-19.



“The coronavirus,” Mr. Trump is heard saying at the start of the ad. “This is their new hoax.”

Priorities USA said on Tuesday that the spot would be shown on stations in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — four battleground states that be critical to Mr. Trump securing a second term in office — as part of a $6 million campaign TV and digital ad buy.

Alex W. Cannon, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, told TV stations the next day that the ad takes the president’s comments out of context and that they could be sued for showing it.

“PUSA’s ad’s central point is deliberately false and misleading, your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation,” he wrote in the letters.

Priorities USA reacted Thursday by announcing it would spend an additional $600,000 to have the ad run in Arizona as well.

Mediaite was the first outlet to report on the Spanish-language campaign, which consists of two similar 15-second ads with subtitles. They are geared specifically toward voters in Florida, the website reported.

The super PAC also plans to spend another $17 million on digital ads that will be shown in the five states between the Democratic National Convention in July and the general election in November, McClatchy reported Friday.

Discovered in China in late December, the coronavirus quickly spread around the world in the weeks afterward, when the first U.S. case documented nearly a month later on January 20.

More than 99,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Friday, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University, which has put the disease’s domestic death toll at over 1,500 people and counting.

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