Many have attributed the success of Donald Trump's campaign to an estimated $2 billion in free press he has received from the media since he launched his presidential bid last summer. But it looks like the GOP presidential nominee is about to start shelling out for some air time.
The Trump campaign will begin airing its first television ads of the general election starting Friday in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the Wall Street Journal. All four of those are swing states where Trump is desperate to regain his footing in the polls after a number of self-inflicted injuries since the party conventions.
The decision to air the ads was run by more than 50 GOP members of Congress who had expressed concerns that Trump was too often off-message on the campaign trail. The campaign told the group that it would be increasing its focus on TV ads after Sept. 1 — to date Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has outspent Trump in TV ad buys by tens of millions of dollars.
It is not yet clear if Trump's new ads will be a positive rebranding of his conservative platform or a series of attack ads against his opponent. Many pundits have pointed out that Trump's domination of the news cycle, previously an asset in the crowded Republican primary field, is now often a liability as the press focus on his controversial rhetoric in speeches does not play as well with a general election audience. Trump could certainly benefit from turning some of that negative attention on Clinton — lost in Clinton's convention bump lead in the polls is the fact that she is still historically the second-most unfavorably rated nominee in history, behind Trump.
While the Trump campaign has yet to air any TV ads since the primary battles itself, pro-Trump Super PACS and advocacy groups have taken the liberty to attack Clinton on their own. Last week the National Rifle Association launched a $3 million attack ad campaign against Clinton in four battleground states, including North Carolina.