Biden has finally taken the gloves off with his anti-Trump ‘convicted criminal’ ad

On Monday, President Joe Biden launched his opening salvo against former president Donald Trump, ten days ahead of their first debate in Atlanta. The $50 million ad does not mince words and goes directly for Trump becoming the first criminally convicted former president.

Up until now, the Biden campaign has largely refrained from attacking Trump personally, though he has teased lines at fundraisers (at one, he told donors: “For the first time in American history, a former president that is a convicted felon is now seeking the office of the presidency.”) Last year, Democratic strategists told The Independent that “the person who is doing the most effective job of driving the indictment news is Donald Trump.”

The Biden campaign has had a few reasons for keeping mum up until now. Chief of among them is that ironically, despite Trump’s repeated baseless accusations that Biden orchestrated the convictions, he needed to remain silent since Special Counsel Jack Smith fell under the jurisdiction of Attorney General Merrick Garland, whom Biden nominated.

Second, Biden likely hoped that the bad headlines alone would cause Trump’s numbers to decline. That has proven not to be the case, as poll after poll consistently shows him trailing Trump in swing states.

Now that he’s committed to another strategy, Biden does not seem content to just hit Trump with one shot; rather, he emptied the clip by mentioning each of the bad legal rulings, noting how the former president has been “been convicted of 34 felonies” as part of a scheme to falsify business records as part of a conspiracy to corruptly influence the 2016 election. The ad also cited when Trump was found liable for having sexually assaulted writer E Jean Carroll in the 1990s, and the much earlier case brought against the former president by the state of New York that found he had conducted a massive fraud scheme.

The ad, which says Trump is “only out for himself,” is trying to construct a clear narrative. Biden’s campaign is arguing that Trump orchestrated the hush money scheme so he could conceal information about his sexual dalliances, which his disgraced former attorney Michael Cohen said at the trial Trump feared would hurt him with female voters; he sexually assaulted Carroll because he felt “When you’re a star, they let you do it”; and he lied about the value about the assets of his company to get better tax benefits and portray himself as a titan of New York City business.

By comparison, Biden’s ad says he’s been “making corporations pay their fair share” and reducing the cost of healthcare. It draws attention to the Inflation Reduction Act, which capped the price of insulin for Medicare recipients and allowed for the program to negotiate drug prices.

Biden seems to believe he can win on this messaging: essentially, that Trump tried to bend government to give him favorable outcomes whereas Biden is using it to help the little guy.

Of course, the big question is whether this will be enough to move the needle, given that many people continue to see Biden as too old to do the job. The White House has lashed out at numerous doctored videos that portray Biden as doddering or “freezing up” at a fundraiser, knowing that this is a particular sore point for the president and the swing voters he relies on.

Despite the fact that he is hardly the most popular candidate to have ever stood for the presidency, Democrats’ recent campaign ads show they are eager to hitch their wagons to Biden — and portray their enemies as enemies of Biden’s, too. In New York’s 16th district, Representative Jamaal Bowman is fighting to keep his seat as Westchester County Executive George Latimer and his allies accuse him of being insufficiently supportive of Biden. One recent attack ad, that aired during the NBA finals, even used an (edited) article from The Independent to make it look like Bowman is a Biden skeptic.

Bowman’s campaign is running an ad showing him “working with President Biden to reduce gun violence and protect abortion rights.” Everyone wants to be seen as working with the president.

Meanwhile, in Virginia’s 5th district, Republicans are duking it out about who is Trump’s biggest fan. Bob Good, the chairman of the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus, is in the fight of his life against his opponent, John McGuire. Good made the mistake of endorsing Ron DeSantis in the past — so now his opponent has that all-important backing of Trump.

For both parties, it’s clear loyalty now means everything — and things are getting personal.