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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump's digital ads on impeachment are largely aimed at base, says digital firm

Elizabeth Warren gaining steam with black vote
Elizabeth Warren gaining steam with black vot... 05:22

President Trump's reelection campaign is pouring cash into digital and television ads in the wake of the impeachment inquiry, but CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ben Mitchell says data collected by left-leaning digital strategy firm Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI) shows the campaign is largely targeting its base, not persuadable voters.

According to BPI, only 35% of Mr. Trump's Facebook ads that mention impeachment — less than $200,000 of the roughly $2 million spent — target voters in swing states. The buy suggests that accusations of a Democratic "overreach" on impeachment might not be a winning message with people who aren't already Trump supporters, but the president's massive fundraising haul in the third quarter shows that playing to the base can have a massive strategic upside. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

MICHAEL BENNET

Senator Michael Bennet released his third television ad in Iowa today, in which he attacks President Trump on health care. In the 30-second ad titled "2010" Bennet says, "I didn't win two swing state elections by apologizing for Obamacare or making empty promises." 

CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says the ad is part of a seven-figure TV, digital, and radio buy the Bennet campaign campaign pushed starting last month. Earlier this week, the campaign announced it had raised over $2 million in the third quarter and has $1.8 million cash on hand. Bennet's campaign says 98% of the contributions it has received have been $100 or less. 

Bennet has about 10 paid full time staffers in Iowa and spent nine days in Iowa holding 19 campaign events in September. 

CORY BOOKER

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker released a plan to reduce child poverty in the United States, according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. Booker would create a "child allowance" for families with children and would expand the Child Tax Credit. The "child allowance" would come from an authorization of a monthly payment program under which families with younger children would receive a monthly allowance of $300 and a monthly allowance of $250 for families with older children up to 18 years of age.  

"When it comes to child poverty, we cannot be silent," Booker said in a statement. "In the richest country in the world, we have a moral responsibility to look after each other and make sure that every child living in America has the opportunity to grow and thrive."

Booker also plans to reform the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by increasing funding by 40 percent and requiring that states use the funds to help provide educational and skill based opportunities for parents receiving TANF benefits. 

He also aims to eliminate child hunger by increasing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit by 30 percent, while advocating for universal free school lunch. In a prepared press release, the campaign referenced an analysis of the plan by Columbia University's Center on Poverty & Social Policy that said Booker's plan would lift 7.3 million children out of poverty.

TULSI GABBARD

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard reached out to Senator Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane, yesterday by phone, following news of her fellow 2020 candidate's health. 

"I've been in touch with his wife, Jane, and just sent my well wishes for a quick recovery. I know that they're focused on taking care of him and making sure he's okay. And they know that I and so many of us are here for him," she told CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. She recalled the 2016 campaign trail today and her relationship with Sanders to reporters. 

"Yeah, a lot of memories from 2016," Gabbard said. "But, you know, I'm grateful that he's become a friend over the years. And no matter what else is going on, when we bump into each other on the campaign trail now, there's always a warm hug and a laugh and a check-in from both of us about how each other's doing."

Gabbard doubled down on her opposition to Senator Kamala Harris' call for Twitter to suspend President Donald Trump's account. "I will stand up for every Americans right and freedom of speech, no matter how strongly I may disagree with that speech," Gabbard remarked. "This freedom is the first amendment of the Constitution for a reason. And I will do all that I can to stand up for it."

EARLY STATES

UP NORTH

Workers at New Hampshire's Rockingham County Nursing Home have seen three presidential candidates in the past week alone. Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang have all rallied alongside nursing home employees in support of their effort to unionize.

"Workers are sick and tired of being exploited," Sanders told workers Monday. "What you're doing is right. And all over the country, people are doing what you're doing."

Today, workers at the Rockingham County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center voted 75-42 to organize a union with SEA/SEIU Local 1984. The local union has yet to endorse a candidate. 

"Most of the feedback that I've been getting from members is that they're still pretty much wide open," SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla told Sganga

"We're the last stand for the middle class in this country. And I think people have forgotten that," Gulla added, reflecting on the state of organized labor. "They take for granted what has been fought for since labor laws were enacted in this country."

IN THE MIDDLE

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who is up for reelection in 2020, told constituents at a town hall in Templeton, Iowa this afternoon, "I can't speak for him," when asked about President Trump's efforts to urge foreign countries to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, report CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ellee Watson.  

"Where is the line? When are you guys going to say enough and stand up and saying, 'I'm not backing any of this,'" Amy Haskins of Manning, who identified herself as an independent, asked Ernst, berating Ernst and her Senate colleagues. "You still stand there silent, and your silence is supporting him and not standing up. You swore an oath. You didn't pledge an oath to the president. You pledged it to our country. You pledged it to our Constitution," she said to applause.

"The president is going to say what the president is going to do," Ernst said. "It's up to us as members of Congress to continue working with our allies." 

Over the past few days, the president has repeatedly attacked a whistleblower who filed a complaint that includes Mr. Trump's phone conversation with the Ukrainian president, a call which has in part spawned the House impeachement inquiry against him. Ernst also answered Haskins' question on whistleblowers.

"Whistleblowers should be protected," Ernst said. "I stand with Chuck Grassley on this."

Speaking to reporters after the town hall, Ernst said, "I think corruption should be ferreted out no matter where it is," when asked whether any president should be soliciting help from foreign governments to investigate political opponents. 

Ernst also told reporters that the Senate Intelligence Committee will figure out how to proceed, based on any new information that emerges. 

"I have read through whether it's the whistleblower complaint, I've read through the transcript, and just on its face value, I don't think there is anything there, per se," Ernst said. "The whistleblower acknowledges this is second-, third-hand information. So The Senate Intelligence Committee, they will sort through all of that. And if there are additional witnesses that need to come forward, or they need to visit with they should do that."

The Democratic Senate campaign arm has endorsed a candidate in Iowa to challenge Ernst, but has not focused as much attention on the Iowa race, compared with other battleground contests. Mr. Trump won Iowa by 10 points in 2016, but a recent Morning Consult poll found 55% of voters in Iowa disapprove of Mr. Trump, while 42% approve of the job he has done.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

CAROLINA CASH

We're likely to see a very expensive Senate campaign season. Democratic Senate candidates seeking to unseat Republicans in North and South Carolina both announced they've raised north of a million dollars each in the third quarter, report CBS News Political Unit associate producers Sarah Ewall-Wice & Ellee Watson.  

According to Cal Cunningham's campaign, the lawyer and former state senator raised $1 million in his challenge against North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, including contributions from more than 4,000 North Carolinians. The campaign also says it has $1.1 million cash on hand ending the month of September.

In South Carolina, Democratic Senate challenger Jaime Harrison's campaign announced a $2.1 million fundraising haul in Q3, a feat that Harrison's team has called "record-breaking," in its effort to unseat incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham. Harrison raised $1.5 million in the second quarter, and Graham doubled that total, bringing in more than $3 million in the second fundraising quarter. 

SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick says "no former lobbyist who supports policies like impeaching President Trump, the Green New Deal, and socialized healthcare is going to beat Senator Graham." However during a campaign kick-off event earlier this week, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell says Harrison had a message for dubious voters. "When I travel around the state people say that they're pulling for us, but they don't know if we can win in a red state," said Harrison. "We represent a new South that is bold, that's inclusive,  that's diverse, and powerful [and] my friends, that new South is rising and it's time to let them hear our voices."

ISSUES THAT MATTER

HEALTHCARE PRIMARY

On Thursday, President Donald Trump visited The Villages in Florida to sign an executive order "protecting Medicare from socialist destruction." The executive order calls for reducing Medicare fraud and supporting privatized Medicare plans, but the president spent a large chunk of his remarks criticizing the "Medicare for All" plan supported by some Democratic presidential candidates, according to CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ellee Watson.

Health care was the number one issue in the 2018 midterms, and the persistent messaging on the issue helped flip the House to Democratic control. Democrats targeted Republicans who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no plan to replace it, and those who supported the ongoing lawsuit in Texas claimed the ACA is unconstitutional.

In March, following the midterm elections, President Trump told reporters on the Hill and tweeted that "The Republican Party would be the Party of Health Care!" 

The Republican Party has yet to come up with a comprehensive health care plan, but the president has addressed some individual health issues. He has approved Congress' opioid legislation and banned flavored cigarettes. He has also made lowering drug prices part of his agenda. He indicated support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill to lower drug prices, but Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly said the measure is dead on arrival, according to CBS News Political Unit associate producer Sarah Ewall Wice.

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