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Democrats Are Taking Their Case Against Donald Trump To Black Newspapers In Battleground States

A full-page ad calls back to Trump’s “What the hell do you have to lose?” appeal to Black voters in 2016.

Posted on September 18, 2020, at 6:00 a.m. ET

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

President Donald Trump during an event in the Oval Office, Sept. 17.

The Democratic National Committee is launching a new advertising push against President Donald Trump in five newspapers that serve Black communities in battleground states, part of a concerted effort to ensure Black voters turn out in large numbers in states that could sway the presidential race.

“What do we have to lose?” reads the ad’s white text — a callback to then-candidate Trump’s “What the hell do you have to lose?” pitch to Black voters while campaigning in Michigan four years ago — set against a red-sky background and above a picture of the White House

“A lot,” the text continues. “We’ve lost jobs. We’ve lost lives. This administration failed us.”

The full-page color ads will appear in the coming days in the Charlotte Post, the Michigan Chronicle, the Milwaukee Community Journal, the Philadelphia Tribune, and the Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The five-figure expenditure is timed to Friday’s National Black Voter Day, an effort BET announced this year to combat what many Democrats see as tactics to suppress Black turnout. The ads encourage readers to visit IWillVote.com, a DNC website that helps voters check their registration status and request ballots by mail.

“Donald Trump didn’t tell Americans the truth about the coronavirus, he’s been totally incompetent and ineffective in responding to this crisis, and now working families — especially Black Americans — are paying the price,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement announcing the campaign, details of which were shared first with BuzzFeed News. “Over the last four years, communities of color have borne the brunt of Trump’s broken promises, and now because of his failures the coronavirus is costing too many Black families their lives and livelihoods.”

Polling shows Black voters favor Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, over Trump by large margins. And Biden’s solid support in the Black community — attributable in part to his service as vice president under Barack Obama — helped propel him in the primaries. But Hillary Clinton’s inability to match Obama’s vote totals in areas such as Detroit and Milwaukee contributed to her electoral college loss against Trump in 2016. Democrats see winning back Michigan and Wisconsin as critical as part of one path to defeating Trump in the general election.

Biden has made criticism of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis central to his candidacy. The president initially downplayed the pandemic and as recently as this week said it would eventually “go away” even without a vaccine. The US death toll is approaching 200,000, and Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected. Biden also has accused Trump of fomenting violence in response to this summer’s anti-racism and Black Lives Matters protests.

The DNC ad does not use Trump’s image or his name, referring only to “this administration.” “Don’t give them a pass,” the text concludes, before plugging the voter assistance website.

"This is an unprecedented election cycle where the stakes are higher than they've ever been, so it is imperative that we're meeting voters where they are, using every medium we can to reach them, and ensuring they know both the facts about Trump's record — along with where they can get the information they'll need to make their plan to vote,” said DNC national press secretary Brandon Gassaway, explaining the focus on print newspapers targeting Black communities. “We are taking nothing for granted in these final weeks and investing in communities that are on the front lines of the GOP’s voter suppression tactics to ensure that they cast their ballots early or on Nov. 3."

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