On Saturday evening, President Trump held a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He began his speech by praising recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then assuring his gathered supporters he would answer their chants to “Fill that seat.”
Before long, he started talking about his 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden, and expressed his bemusement at the prospect of losing to the former vice-president, calling him, “the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics.” He went on to declare, “If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I will never speak to you again . . . . You’ll never see me again.”
This, of course, is the dream of every one of Trump’s opponents. (And maybe even some supporters of his policies.) The Biden campaign clearly knows this and turned that clip into a perfect 10-second ad for the Democratic nominee.
I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message. pic.twitter.com/TuRZXPE5xK
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 20, 2020
Using President Trump’s own words against him has been a national hobby since he first rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his candidacy in 2015. It’s the Shooter McGavin advertising tactic, taking a statement made with bold confidence and flipping it in order to make an opposing point.
Or just to make the person look stupid. Either way.
Old tweets, interviews, hot mic audio bragging about sexual assault, it’s all out there. The fodder file has only grown over the past four years, with CNN’s Daniel Dale constantly, and expertly, fact-checking every presidential declaration.
The proliferation of mobile video has made using past remarks against politicians a new cornerstone of political advertising.
Even just over the past few days, in light of Justice Ginsburg’s death, there have been spots reminding us where leading Republicans and the President himself stood on Supreme Court nominations in an election year, just four years ago. Really American, for example, highlighted the opinions of Mitch McConnell and Trump. Meanwhile, The Lincoln Project focused on Lindsey Graham.
Lindsey said he wants us to use his words against him. Ok, done. pic.twitter.com/HrYrpVZyuw
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) September 20, 2020
That organization of Republicans who oppose Trump has made using the President’s words an entire advertising category, employing it for everything from his listening skills to his flip-flop on using herd immunity to treat COVID-19.
Tough but fair. https://t.co/3Zj6WpuRBi
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) September 18, 2020
But what makes the new Biden ad different is how it manages to distill this tactic to its very essence.
There are no added video or graphics, no spliced-together quotes. Just a raw, 10-second clip that says it all. Never Trump Republicans and, say, fans of AOC don’t have much in common in terms of policy, but they definitely do have this.