A top Democratic super PAC will begin running scores of new digital ads on Wednesday aimed at holding President Donald Trump accountable for a host of comments he has made about his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Priorities USA, which is now supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, will release seven digital ads that use the words of nurse and doctors against the President, fault him for a shortage of critical ventilators and turn comments he made doubting that anyone could have seen the crisis coming against him.
The ads – along with efforts from other Democratic groups – show how nearly all Democratic organizations have shifted their paid media to focus on the Republican response to coronavirus, a reflection of both the belief that the outbreak is a liability for the GOP and the reality that the virus has the full attention of all Americans. The ads will air in the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida.
The ads are meant to establish that early in the coronavirus crisis, Trump downplayed the issue. They will run in both English and Spanish and are part of the nearly $8 million television and digital ad buy the group is currently funding.
Other Priorities ads about the pandemic have already drawn the attention of the Trump campaign. After the organization began running an at titled “Exponential Threat,” the Trump campaign sent a cease and desist letter demanding television stations stop airing the ad.
The Democratic super PAC increased the ad buy in response, but drew some criticism because the ad did splice together quotes that did not correspond with the rise in cases shown in the spot. Some of the digital ads released on Wednesday use the same editing strategy.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Ali Pardo told CNN in a statement Wednesday that they view these ads as a “desperate attempt to distract from the President’s strong leadership and growing support from the American people.”
One of the new ads, titled “Nurse and Doctors,” features the voices of health care workers who feel they have not been provided with the needed personal protective equipment as they treat people infected with the contagious virus.
“It felt like I was working in a war zone,” a nurse says in the spot.
And another includes Trump saying on March 12 that “relative to other countries, we have very few cases” as a graph shows the rate of spread in the United States.
A third ad features Trump saying, “Nobody could have ever seen something like this coming” at a late March press briefing. The spot then features media reports about how a playbook for how the federal government could respond to a pandemic was not used by the Trump administration.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” a final slate in the ad reads. “Trump failed to act.”
Former Obama administration staffers have accused Trump’s administration of failing to use the playbook they wrote on how a White House should deal with a spreading pandemic after the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
“I don’t really know the reason that it wasn’t used,” Beth Cameron, former White House National Security Council senior director for global health security and biodefense, told CNN in March. “I think it certainly would have been useful had it been used.”
Another ad features Trump deflecting responsibility at a mid-March news conference.
“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump is seen saying in the ad before a map of the United States shows the spread of the coronavirus from late January to April.”
The ad also features Trump telling a reporter in January that his administration has it “totally under control” and Trump saying at a late February press briefing that his administration has “done a great job in keeping (the virus) down to a minimum.” The ad closes with an image of Trump and his quote, “I don’t take responsibility at all,” in large block letters.
One ad faults Trump for a nationwide shortage of ventilators. The Trump administration looked to remedy the issue by invoking the Defense Production Act to compel companies to build ventilators, but some have accused Trump of ignoring the possible ventilator shortage for weeks.
The ad includes the voice of Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan saying, “No state in America has enough ventilators” and Trump, as he has done repeatedly, claiming that the United States has a “tremendous numbers of ventilators.”
“Trump is still denying the truth,” reads the final slate in the ad as Trump’s voice says, “I think we are going to be in very good shape.”
The ads – all of which focus on coronavirus – signal how the virus has consumed the entire political conversation. Democratic candidates, just over a month ago, were debating a host of policy issues as the Trump campaign geared up to define the eventual Democratic nominee. But the spread of coronavirus has engulfed the country, making other issues seemingly pale in comparison.
Priorities USA, a group that stayed out of the primary and instead focused on attacking Trump, backed Biden in mid-March, even as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is staying in the race despite his significant delegate deficit.
“The math is now clear,” Guy Cecil, the chairman of the super PAC, tweeted on March 10. “Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee for President and @prioritiesUSA is going to do everything we can to help him defeat Donald Trump in November. I hope others will join us in the fight.”
Two of the ads released by the super PAC on Wednesday directly back Biden, contrasting clips of the former vice president calling for the “truth” and the end of “wasting any more time” with Trump saying his administration has it “totally under control.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this story.