EXCLUSIVE: A super PAC backing President Trump’s re-election bid is taking aim at Joe Biden for what they say is the Democratic presidential nominee’s refusal to recognize “the threat Antifa poses to American society.”
The outside group – the Committee to Defend the President – tells Fox News that it’s launching a new ad-blitz in the crucial general election battleground of Arizona, a state Trump won four years ago but is currently trailing Biden according to the latest public opinion polls.
The organization says they’ll spend $1 million to run TV commercials statewide and an additional $100,000 to run the ads on digital. The ads are expected to start running this week and will air through the end of the month, the group says.
One of the spots showcases Biden’s comment from last month’s first presidential debate that “Antifa’s an idea, not an organization.”
“Ideas don’t smash windows. Ideas don’t wreck police cars. Ideas don’t burn car dealerships, loot minority-owned businesses,” the announcer in the commercial says. “The Antifa threat is real and must be stopped. If Joe Biden can’t see the danger, he can’t lead America.”
Biden’s comments during the debate came when he was asked by the moderator – "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace – to condemn left-wing extremism. The former vice president appeared to be referencing comments earlier in September from FBI Director Christopher Wray, in which Wray said “we look at Antifa as more of an ideology or a movement than an organization."
But the FBI director added, “to be clear we do have quite a number of properly predicated domestic terrorism investigations into violent anarchist extremists, any number of whom self-identify with the Antifa movement.”
The president last month introduced a plan that would designate Antifa a terrorist organization, something he had suggested doing in the past.
Antifa – which traces its roots back 13 years ago to Portland, Ore. -- is a loose movement of far-left anti-fascist activists. The name Antifa is an abbreviation of the phrase anti-fascist. Federal and local authorities say both Antifa followers, along with White supremacists, have been behind some of the violence and looting that’s flared at protests against racial inequity that sprang up in cities across the country this spring and summer.
The super PAC’s second ad spotlights that “13 Biden staffers contributed to bail fund that put violent protesters back on the street.”
The commercial is referring to reports that more than a dozen staffers on the Biden presidential campaign donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a nonprofit organization that pays criminal bail and cash bonds for those who cannot afford them. The fund grabbed national attention earlier this year after several celebrities donated to the group to bail out protesters arrested during demonstrations sparked by the death of Black man George Floyd while in the custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At least 13 Biden staffers tweeted in May that they donated to the fund. Biden’s team noted that the staffers made their contributions on their own and weren’t organized by the campaign
The announcer in the commercial says that “even Kamala Harris pitches in.”
The announcer was referring to a tweet from Sen. Kamala Harris of California in early June saying “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.” The tweet by the senator came more than two months before she was named by Biden as his running mate.
The Committee to Defend the President chairman Ted Harvey, in a statement, charged that “for months, Joe Biden has been cozying up to the radical Left, refusing to recognize the very real threat that Antifa poses to American society. Even worse, Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, has personally raised money for a left-wing bail fund that put violent criminals back on the streets, while Biden staffers contributed to it. A vote for the Biden ticket is a vote for rioting, looting, and nationwide chaos.”
The super PAC says its spent more than $7 million on pro-Trump independent expenditures from the begining of the year through the end of September.
Except for President Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996, Arizona has been carried by the GOP in presidential elections since 1952. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney topped President Obama by 9 points in the state. But in 2016, Trump carried Arizona by just 3.5 points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
An average of the latest public opinion polls in the state indicates Biden holding a single-digit edge over the president. Both campaigns have poured plenty of time and money into the state. Both Biden and Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in-person in Arizona last Friday.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report