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Biden plans $30 million ad blitz and battleground state visits as general election campaign begins

Biden hits campaign trail after fiery speech
Biden hits campaign trail after fiery State of the Union address 03:16

President Biden is launching the first salvos of the general election campaign with a $30 million ad blitz and a tour of battleground states in March, as Nikki Haley's departure from the race all but ensures he'll be facing former President Donald Trump this fall. 

His campaign announced the six-week advertising campaign Friday, with a buy that exceeds its total spending in 2023, signaling a shift to the general election. The ads will run on TV and also on radio through Black and Hispanic-owned outlets, as well as on digital platforms. There will also be specific buys geared toward the "March Madness" NCAA college basketball tournament this month. 

Mr. Biden's campaign says the ad campaign will focus on making an affirmative case for his reelection and on highlighting contrasts with Trump. Abortion rights and the "fight for the soul of the nation" are the themes of the messaging.

On the ground, the campaign plans to dramatically increase its brick-and-mortar presence this month and aims to open 100 new offices across battleground states with 350 new staffers. And the campaign is conducting outreach to establish coalitions with key base voters who were crucial to his 2020 win, including Black, Hispanic and Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. 

"We firmly believe that this race is going to be one on the ground across key states that are core to our multiple pathways to 270. And everything we're doing this month to kick off the general election is grounded in that premise," Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez told reporters Friday. The nominee who wins 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.

At the same time, Mr. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other White House principals will be traveling extensively this month. The president is kicking off a tour across the battleground states Friday, starting in his home state of Pennsylvania before heading to Georgia the following day. Next week, the president is scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Vice President Harris will be traveling this weekend to Arizona and Nevada, focusing on engaging with Latino voters.

"The only way we will win come November is by earning and not just asking for each American's vote," said the Biden campaign's battleground states director, Dan Kanninen. "This is an embodiment of the way President Biden thinks about organizing and politics, meeting voters where they are, and working as one team to achieve it would be impossible alone."  

Biden has substantial cash reserves, over $130 million at this point. This war chest comprises funds from the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and joint-fundraising committees.

Trump reportedly has less than half of what Mr. Biden has at this point, around $56 million in cash on hand. The likely Republican nominee is set to receive an additional $8.7 million from the RNC after he secures the 1,215 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. The earliest that can happen is March 12, when Georgia, Mississippi and Washington hold their nominating contests.

The Biden campaign says it had its best fundraising hours since its launch during the State of the Union address Thursday night and its best grassroots fundraising month in February. 

And now, it is capitalizing on the president's cash advantage to try to re-energize his campaign amid recent polling by news outlets, including CBS News, that shows him trailing Trump.

"We know this is going to be an extremely close election," said Biden campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon. "We know it was a close election in 2020. We know that we have an extraordinary amount of work to do to make sure that the American people are hearing from this campaign."

In Michigan, the campaign is facing a growing "uncommitted" movement, where over 100,000 voters choose to vote "uncommitted" in its Democratic primary last month, rather than for Mr. Biden, in protest of his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. It's uncertain whether these Democratic primary voters would fill out their ballots in the same way in November, but it's something the campaign is watching in battleground states, particularly because these states have been won or lost by very narrow margins in the past few elections. 

And the uncommitted movement is now spreading to the other battleground states of Georgia and Wisconsin.  

While the majority of Black and Hispanic voters say they plan to vote for Mr. Biden in the general election, his current support among both groups is lower than it was in 2020, according to the latest CBS News poll

"I'm concerned as I would be in any cycle about people staying home. The work we do every cycle since I've been at this party is centered around making sure folks understand the importance of showing up for that election, and we're going to do that work again this cycle," said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. 

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