2020 elections

New Lincoln Project Ad Blames Trump for Killings at Kenosha Protests

Minute-long spot accuses the president of ‘encouraging the kooks, the crazies, the extremists, the angry fringe’

Demonstrators revisit the site where a protester was killed on Aug. 26 in Kenosha, Wis. The alleged shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a supporter of President Donald Trump, and a new ad from the Lincoln Project looks to tie the president to the incident. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
September 8, 2020 at 7:30 am ET

The Lincoln Project, a group of current and former Republicans seeking to prevent President Donald Trump’s re-election, is out with a new advertisement blaming the president for civil unrest that recently turned deadly in the critical swing state of Wisconsin.  

In the new minute-long commercial shared exclusively with Morning Consult, the group links Kyle Rittenhouse’s alleged Aug. 26 killing of two people at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Kenosha, Wis., to Trump’s rhetoric and his elevation of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who were awarded an Aug. 25 speaking slot at the Republican National Convention after brandishing firearms at demonstrators outside of their home in St. Louis on June 28. 

“This is sick. This is wrong. This is dangerous,” a narrator says during the spot, which features an image of Rittenhouse at a Trump rally. “And as long as Trump is president, he’ll keep encouraging the kooks, the crazies, the extremists, the angry fringe. It doesn’t have to be this way.” 

The commercial will begin running online and on television in Washington, D.C., today, according to Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen, an independent political consultant, and will roll out to television and digital platforms in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and North Carolina later in the week (a spokesman for the group did not disclose a figure for the size of the ad buy). As with other Lincoln Project ads, the group is aiming to garner attention for the spot online and from cable news platforms, boosted by prominent members such as Steve Schmidt, a frequent MSNBC guest.

“It’s more than about public safety. It’s about what America means in 2020 and beyond,” Galen said in a Monday interview. “Everything he says is going to happen with Joe Biden is already happening.” 

The ad is a direct rebuttal to the pitch that Trump and his campaign are aiming at suburban communities: that the country won’t be safe if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected president. In Trump’s convention speech, he portrayed himself as the law-and-order candidate, saying, “the most dangerous aspect of the Biden platform is the attack on public safety.” 

The spot also alludes to the Biden campaign’s theme of restoring the “soul” of America, casting the election as a choice between Trump and the country itself.

The commercial’s message could resonate with voters, particularly those in the suburbs, as well as independents and women: A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted Aug. 28-30 found voters trusted Biden more than Trump to handle public safety by a margin of 8 percentage points (47 percent to 39 percent). That included roughly half (49 percent) of women and suburban voters and 41 percent of independents. 

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