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Keller: Trump and Biden campaign ads have one thing in common - negativity

Keller puts Biden and Trump claims to the truth test
Keller puts Biden and Trump claims to the truth test 02:25

The opinions expressed below are Jon Keller's, not those of WBZ, CBS News or Paramount Global.

BOSTON - Throughout the rest of the 2024 presidential campaign, WBZ-TV will be closely watching the messages President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump put out on video, online and broadcast, and spotlighting spin and falsehood.

In the race for president, the political rhetoric is coming fast and furiously. Too fast for the fact-checkers to keep up.

Is message from Trump campaign truthful?

"This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt," said former President Donald Trump outside the New York courthouse last week after being convicted of multiple felonies.

But polls show a solid majority of the all-important independent vote believes Trump got a fair trial, even as the campaign is insisting otherwise in a new video juxtaposing Trump's post-verdict claim that the Biden administration somehow orchestrated the trial to "hurt...a political opponent" with video of Biden flashing a supposedly sinister smile in response to a reporter's question about Trump's claim.

But that spin faces an uphill battle. A new CBS News/YouGov poll finds 38% saying the verdict made them less confident in the justice system, but a whopping 62% saying it left them more confident or had no impact.

And top fact-checkers like PolitiFact are debunking the notion of Trump as a political target.

How does Biden's campaign measure up?  

Meanwhile, Biden's newest ad tries to undermine positive memories some voters have of Trump's term. "From midnight tweets to drinking bleach to teargassing citizens and staging a photo op, we knew Trump was out of control when he was president," it says.
But claims Trump promoted drinking bleach as an antidote to COVID are untrue, a rehashed falsehood from the 2020 campaign.

And while some of Trump's own rhetoric supports the ad's contention that Trump is now "threatening to be a dictator," its use of a clip of Trump saying, "if i don't get elected, it's gonna be a bloodbath" is misleading. That comment was about potential economic damage to the auto industry if Trump doesn't prevail, not a threat of violence.

So far in this bitter battle, truth seems to be an early casualty. But what do these messages tell us about the strategies of these campaigns?

They show how Trump's felony convictions represent a hurdle his campaign feels he needs to clear. That ad imputing sinister motives to Biden's smile is aimed squarely at the Trump base, trying to animate their suspicion and deepen their contempt for Biden.

Meanwhile, the Biden ad is targeted at independents and other swing voters, trying to revive all the negative feelings they had about Trump four years ago as they put Biden over the top. 

One thing they both have in common - negativity, the hallmark of our politics these days.

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