Change in Strategy: Biden Unleashes $50 Million Ad Campaign Targeting Trump’s Convictions

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 17, 2024

Democrat presidential candidate and current US President Joe Biden is starting a new multi-million dollar ad campaign focused on attacking his opponent Donald Trump over his recent felony convictions.

This campaign comes as Biden dives in with both feet after initial reluctance to press Trump on this conviction over fears of it would energize his base even more.

Trump’s Convictions

Donald Trump recently made US history as the first former president convicted of a felony. Right before the start of this month, Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records over hush money payments ahead of the 2016 election.

Donald Trump standing in front of a presidential podium speaking into a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

For his part, Trump has maintained his innocence through the trial and is seeking an appeal, accusing the prosecution of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”


Difficulty Weighing In

While Democrats and Trump’s critics celebrated his conviction in a New York Court, some were wary of gloating too hard lest it galvanize and empower Trump’s supporters.

President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone at a public event, wearing a navy blue suit and a red and blue striped tie, with a blurred background

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

“I think the prevailing view is it is an extremely close election and the conviction, while not a game changer, helps on the margins with a small group of voters,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and donor. “It may temporarily juice enthusiasm on Trump side but doesn’t gain any new voters for him.”

Biden’s Previous Stance

In the wake of the conviction, Biden was much more tepid in his approach to framing its importance, saying “That’s for the public to decide” regarding how important the conviction was for the election.

President Joe Biden delivering a speech from a podium in the White House, with the American flag in the background

Source: POTUS/X

Biden was likely worried about “taking credit” for the conviction in the eyes of voters and playing into Trump’s line of defense accusing the trial of being a political witchhunt directed by him.

Trump’s Boon

The critics of the former president were looking on with caution as the Trump campaign announced blockbuster donations in the first 24 hours of the trial verdict being read.

Donald Trump is pictured with a smirking expression, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and bright blue tie. He is standing in front of a blue background that includes a partial view of a star shape

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

According to the Trump campaign, the former president raised $141 million in the month of May for his campaign. An astounding $54 million of that haul was reportedly raised in the first 24 hours of his felony conviction.

Polls on Republicans

A series of polls were done on voters following the conviction of Trump to gauge just how much influence it might have.

A man sat at a table filling out some paper forms with a pen.

Source: Scott Graham/Unsplash

Some polls found a small drop in support for Trump while an Emerson College survey found that over a quarter of voters were actually more likely to vote for Trump because of his felony conviction.


Fight on the Margins

A Reuters poll conducted in the wake of the verdict found that 10% of Republicans are now less likely to vote for Trump after the felony conviction.

The logos of Republicans and Democrats against a black background.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

While this number is not that large, the fact that the election continues to be close means that any movement on the margins could potentially decide the election.


Biden’s Shift

Now that enough time has passed from Trump’s May 30 conviction, the “wait and see” strategy from Biden and Democrats seems to be ending.

Joe Biden in a blue suit in front of the American flag.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

“This election is between a convicted criminal who’s only out for himself, and a president who’s fighting for your family,” said a new 30-second Biden ad titled “Character Matters.”


Wishing Happy Birthday

Biden’s social media account on X wished Trump a Happy Birthday over the weekend with a video showing the contrast between the two candidates.

A grouping of balloons floating on the ceiling.

Source: Adi Goldstein/Unsplash

In this 30-second video, Trump is contrasted with Biden by his felony convictions. “[Trump] convicted of 34 felonies,” the ad reads while showing Biden writing at a desk with the text “[Biden] appointed 100 black women to federal judgeships.”


Convicted Felon

Biden’s current campaign strategy is leaning toward calling Trump a “convicted criminal” seemingly waving away concerns that attacking Trump in this way will validate Trump’s rhetoric around political persecution.

Someone looks at the hallway of a prison from inside a cell.

Source: Matthew Ansley/Unsplash

“In the courtroom, we see Donald Trump for who he is,” the “Character Matters” ad on YouTube says.


Reaction To The Ad

YouTube comments for Biden’s new ad seem supportive of the effort to hold Trump accountable for his felony convictions. “Hurrah Pres. Biden, enough going easy on Trump,” said one commenter.

Joe Biden speaks into a microphone at a rally.

Source: Michael Stokes/Wikimedia

“Thank you President Biden for telling it like it is,” said commenter Jim Charne. “Keep running this ad until November 5th,” said commenter David Blantz. “The gloves are off,” said another commenter.


Looking Ahead

This move to unleash an intense attack campaign against Trump comes as the two are set to square off in a debate at the end of the month on June 27.

Biden smiles facing the camera while trump looks to the side wearing a red tie and a suit.

Source: David Lienemann/Wikimedia, 首相官邸ホームページ/Wikimedia

While Biden is spending a lot and Trump is gaining more donations, Democrats are still maintaining an overall finance lead. Recently, Biden was able to generate $30 million for his campaign at a Los Angeles fundraiser filled with celebrities.