Coal Miners and Auto Workers Toil in Trump Digital Ads

While GOP Pick Injects Jobs and Trade Message Into Online Spots, Clinton Sticks to Script

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Credit: Donald J Trump for President
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Coal miners and auto workers are toiling away in Donald Trump ads. Recognizing the need to maintain and grow support from blue collar workers in places like the Midwest and Appalachia, the Republican presidential nominee is pushing his support for coal mining and trade deal renegotiations in recent online ads. In contrast to the campaign's aim to persuade voters through a job creation message, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is sticking to rallying the base and attacking Mr. Trump in digital ads.

It was as early as May when Mr. Trump visited West Virginia coal country, speaking to hard hat-wearing rally crowds flashing "Trump digs coal" placards. There, he told supporters he'd bring back coal mining jobs in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And the candidate has been touting his self-proclaimed ability to make great trade deals since he launched his campaign for the White House. Now, as he battles to win over disillusioned blue collar and union workers, particularly in swing states such as auto manufacturing hub Michigan and Pennsylvania, his campaign has introduced those messages into online ads.

"A working America is a winning America," declare ads featuring Mr. Trump in a white ballcap and suit jacket juxtaposed with an image of an old timey grey-bearded coal miner donning overalls and a handkerchief neck tie. The ads were spotted over the last two weeks by digital ad-tracking system Moat Pro.

A similar ad shows the same photo of the real estate tycoon alongside a photo of an auto industry worker inspecting a vehicle, clipboard in hand. "Great deals create new jobs," proclaims the ad, referring to the candidate's promise to renegotiate trade deals that many believe have led to the transfer of auto industry jobs away from the U.S.

The ads are based on the same template as earlier online ads from the campaign featuring Mr. Trump alongside photos of NASA spacecraft and astronauts.

Other online display ads purport similar messages including "I am the only candidate who has created tens of thousands of jobs" and "End bad trade deals -- Make America wealthy again."

However, while the Trump camp is using issue-based online ads to persuade voters, the Hillary Victory Fund -- a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee -- remains focused primarily on appealing to the Democratic base with the same messages seen for months, including the "Stronger together" slogan used to corral former Bernie Sanders supporters into the pro-Clinton fold. Ads that state "I'm with her" are also still running frequently online.

Both candidates are on the attack, though. The Trump campaign is sticking with its "Crooked Hillary" mantra, suggesting in current ads that, "Only Trump can stop crooked Hillary."

Recent Clinton ads also carry through on a message introduced in TV spots in July, suggesting that Mr. Trump is a bad role model for children. "When we choose our next president, what kind of example will we set for our children?" asks a recently spotted web ad from the Victory Fund. "Our children are watching." Earlier this month, the campaign ran ads that pictured Mr. Trump beneath an off-putting mustard yellow glaze, calling him "Too risky."

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