US Democrat and presidential hopeful Joe Biden at a campaign event in Iowa, the US. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE
US Democrat and presidential hopeful Joe Biden at a campaign event in Iowa, the US. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE

New York/Washington — US Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign will blanket television and social media with $280m in advertising by election day on November 3, the campaign announced on Wednesday, more than his rival’s campaign has spent in total since 2017.

The hefty advertising across 15 states marks a sharp increase for the former vice-president, who once struggled to find money during his party’s primary and only aired his first general election ad blitz in June.

Trump has reserved nearly $150m in television ads across 11 states so far for the autumn, according to media research companies. To date, Trump has significantly outspent Biden on Facebook, Google and on TV.

The new Biden ad reservations, which include $60m allocated to digital ads, would exhaust all of the $242m his campaign reported having available to spend last month and all but guarantee that the Trump-Biden showdown will be the most expensive US election in history.

National polls showing Biden ahead of Trump have given the campaign new confidence, as did the $282.1m in cash the campaign and Democratic allies collected from donors from April to June, the first time they outraised Trump over a full quarter.

The states in which Biden will advertise include key swing states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Republican-leaning states that the campaign hopes to put in play this autumn, such as Arizona and Georgia.

The list reflects the campaign’s intent to go “on offence”, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told reporters. The ads will show Biden as an empathetic leader, in contrast to his opponent, she said, adding, “This election is a clear referendum on Donald Trump and his failed leadership on Covid-19 and also on the economy.” 

Trump ran an insurgent campaign largely relying on free media coverage in 2016. But his re-election campaign, which started in 2017, has spent $237m so far, running attack ads against Biden even before he clinched his party’s nomination. The Republican Party and other Trump affiliates have spent hundreds of millions more.

Current ads from the Trump campaign characterise Biden as under the control of radical left-wing activists.

Both campaigns will compete for the attention of voters stuck at home because of the coronavirus as the election enters its final three-month stretch. Biden and a soon-to-be-announced running mate will accept his party’s nomination at a largely virtual convention in two weeks. The Republican convention will follow the week after.

Milwaukee a no-go

Biden will not accept the Democratic US presidential nomination at the designated convention site of Milwaukee because of concerns about the coronavirus, the party said on Wednesday.

The former vice-president had planned to travel to Milwaukee this month to accept the nomination. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said none of the speakers for the 2020 convention will travel to Milwaukee to prevent risking the health of the community after public health officials “underscored the worsening Covid-19 pandemic”.

Details of Biden’s acceptance speech will be announced later, it said.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first. We followed the science, listened to doctors and public-health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans to protect lives,” DNC chair Tom Perez said in a statement.

Update: August 5 2020 
This article has been updated with information about the Democratic National Committee.


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