EXCLUSIVE: The Trump campaign resumed airing national ads on Monday with what officials called a "smarter, more strategic" approach focused on early voting states, after hitting pause in order to review their tactics.
The campaign last week took a brief hiatus from the airwaves, as new campaign manager Bill Stepien conducted a review of where and when their ads were airing. The latest ads, which begin airing Monday, recognize the "staggered calendar" in the 2020 election given the prevalence of early voting, a campaign official told Fox News.
“The countdown clock may show 91 days left in the race but, in reality, the election starts a lot sooner than that,” Stepien told Fox News. “In many states, more than half of voters will cast their votes well before Election Day and we have adjusted our strategy to reflect that.”
Stepien added: “Joe Biden is continuing to spend millions of dollars a week in states that won’t come online for two months and we encourage him to keep at it.”
A Trump campaign official told Fox News that the new ads are focused in those early voting states — specifically Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
A campaign official told Fox News that the campaign is viewing this “significant” buy as a “re-launch” and the “result of Stepien’s review of what was being done before he took over.”
“We were on the air in a lot of places before, but this is focused and specifically geared to early voting states,” the official told Fox News. “Before his review, that was not the focus.”
In those four states, absentee or early voting begins between early September and October.
“We believe this is a much smarter strategy,” the official said. “This is not the 2016 calendar or 2012 calendar, coronavirus aside. Early voting is much more of a thing in 2020.”
One of the new ads which launched nationally on Monday -- and had an extra push in local markets in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arizona -- is titled "Takeover," and accuses Biden of having “embraced the policies of the radical left,” while claiming he will create “trillions in new taxes” that would crush the middle class, grant “amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants;” and reduce police funding.
“The radical left has taken over Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,” the ad says. “Don’t let them take over America.”
The second ad, titled “Cards,” is directed at the "Silent Majority," according to the Trump campaign.
The ad features a woman silently displaying cue cards that describe her concerns about Biden on taxes, illegal immigration and trade.
A campaign official told Fox News that the woman in the ad is "not an actress."
"She's a real Trump supporter," the official said.
The Trump campaign last week took a brief pause in running TV ads in order to fine-tune the campaign’s strategy. The Trump campaign told Fox News last week that “with the leadership change in the campaign, there’s understandably a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy. We’ll be back on the air shortly, even more forcefully exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left-wing.”
That change in leadership came a couple of weeks ago, when Stepien, a veteran campaign operative, replaced Brad Parscale as Trump’s campaign manager.
Meanwhile, the former vice president’s campaign had stepped up its game—spending roughly $30 million in recent weeks to run TV, digital and radio commercials in the key battlegrounds. That’s a dramatic increase compared to what they had been spending prior to mid-July.
Last week, the Biden campaign touted that they were also going up with ads in Ohio, a quadrennial swing state that Trump won by 8 points four years ago but where recent polls show a close contest for the state’s 18 electoral votes.
Trump's poll numbers both nationally and in key battlegrounds reflect him consistently trailing Biden, as he faces national concerns about his leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates ridiculed the Trump campaign over its latest "reset" in a statement Monday morning.
"The American people know Joe Biden. And after seven consecutive months of failed leadership during the worst public health crisis in generations, they know that our nation's capacity to join the rest of the world in beating back COVID-19 has been crippled by one overriding burden: Donald Trump," Bates told Fox News. "That's why the Trump campaign is locked in a sad and pathetic cycle of bimonthly, shambolic message 'resets' -- all of which are based on the same recycled lies that voters have seen through countless times before."
With a reduced but still significant campaign cash advantage over Biden, Trump is far from done when it comes to the ad wars. According to Advertising Analytics, a major ad-tracking firm, the Trump campaign already has a whopping $146.5 million pre-booked to run commercials from Labor Day through Election Day.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and John Roberts contributed to this report.