GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign has spent nothing since May on TV advertising and little on other media. But the real estate tycoon has backing from a PAC that spent millions in June and July to attack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and convince voters that he will bolster the country's military prowess.
Great America PAC spent $3.8 million on TV ads, phone and online voter contact and voter data in June and July, according to Ad Age analysis of Federal Election Commission filings submitted by the group last month.
Ads from the organization, which counts veteran GOP campaign lead Ed Rollins as its top strategist and LendingTree founder and CEO Doug Lebda as co-chair, support Mr. Trump's promises to "Rebuild our military and make America respected in the world again," "Defeat ISIS and radical Islam," and "Stop the scourge of illegal immigration by securing our borders and building a wall that Mexico will pay for."
Some of the top recipients of that pro-Trump cash were TV ad firm Rapid Response Television, data and list broker Political List Brokers and digital ad firms Campaign Solutions and Connell Donatelli, which are affiliated.
More than $2.1 million was spent on TV ads, and their messages aim to appeal to security-minded Americans concerned about terrorism.
"Join millions of active duty military and veterans like me. Stand with Donald Trump," former U.S. Navy Seal Carl Higbie says in one ad. Photos of Mr. Trump speaking on the deck of the USS Iowa, a decommissioned U.S. naval battleship, are interspersed with shots of the crime scene after shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June, deemed a "stark reminder that the battlefield and the enemy is moving here."
Despite the group's ability to attract influential military representatives and veterans as endorsers for Mr. Trump, the candidate has been dogged by concerns among some military voters and vets that he does not respect them or their sacrifices. Most recently, his run-in with the parents of a slain U.S. Muslim Army captain has caused problems for him among the important military constituency.
Another Great America PAC spot takes direct aim at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The widow of Ty Woods, a Navy Seal who died in the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya during Mrs. Clinton's time as Secretary of State, is featured in the ad, declaring Mrs. Clinton's testimonial at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about the attack "a disgrace." In "The Difference," Dorothy Woods opines, "We need a leader who tells it like it is and has our backs, a leader we can trust to tell the truth. That leader is Donald Trump."
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani makes an appearance in another ad, proclaiming, "America's leadership can and must be better, and with Donald Trump as president it will be."
Contributions to Mr. Trump's campaign surged in July, so it may only be a matter of time before it begins significant TV spending of its own.
Great America PAC's Media Buys in June and July
- Total Spent: $3.8 million
- TV Ads: $2.1 million with Rapid Response
- Data Services and List Rental: $472,000 mainly with Campaign Solutions and Political List Brokers
- Phone Voter Contact: $410,000 mainly with Infocision Management
- Online Voter Contact and Online Ads: $453,000 mainly with Connell Donatelli and Campaign solutions
- Direct Mail: $227,000 with Brilliant Communications
- Bumper Stickers: $28,000 with Campaign Solutions
- Radio Ads: $20,000 with Rapid Response