WASHINGTON -- Even with the country largely at a standstill amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, election year politics are intensifying as the general election matchup has come into clearer focus.
The main super PAC backing President Donald Trump's reelection bid Wednesday announced a $10 million ad buy that will target former Vice President Joe Biden, who has a significant delegate lead in the Democratic nomination fight, in three key states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
America First Action will start airing digital, cable and broadcast ads in mid-April that will run through May.
"It's time to put Sleepy Joe Biden to bed," said Brian O. Walsh, America First Action PAC's president, in a statement that promised additional rounds of ads in the months ahead. "By the time November rolls around, voters in battleground states are going to know why Joe Biden is weak, wrong and been around for too long to lead the United States of America."
The group's first major spending effort of the campaign cycle, which will also include direct mail, comes in response to weeks of ads from Democratic outside groups and Biden's campaign that have aimed to build a case against the president's shifting and at times self-contradicting response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new ads are at least partly a response to complaints by a number of Republican operatives and Trump backers that the organization has been too slow to act, leaving the president without political cover as he has been forced to cancel campaign rallies and focus his public appearances on leading the government's coronavirus response.
Recent polls have shown Trump's standing with the public improving somewhat during the coronavirus crisis, although he has enjoyed much less of a rally-round-the-leader boost than prominent governors or officials in other countries such as Great Britain or Germany. The same polls have continued to show Biden leading by at least a small margin in head-to-head matchups.
One Trump ally familiar with the super PAC, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the group has been too lax but welcomed the news of the ad buy targeting Biden.
"Biden is a mistake machine. He looks so feckless right now," the person said. "(It's) time for the PAC to highlight it, the contrast versus Trump as commander.
"The whole reason for an outside group like America First is to attack the opponent relentlessly."