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Pro-Clinton SuperPACS Paying Attention To GOP Efforts To Shake Trump


Donald Trump's status as Republican front-runner has brought with it lots of negative advertising. Take this ad.





UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Real quotes from Donald Trump about women.

MONTAGNE: That ad was created by the PAC, Our Principles. Here's another from the Conservative Solutions PAC.


DONALD TRUMP: I love the poorly educated.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: That's really what Donald Trump is all about. He thinks we're fools.

MONTAGNE: According to one analysis of campaign ads, at least 68 different anti-Trump TV ads have been shown around 40,000 times across the country. The striking thing about these ads is that virtually all of them were created by Republican PACs and conservative interest groups. And their Democratic counterparts are gleeful about that.

Justin Barasky is a spokesman for the pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA. Welcome to the program.

JUSTIN BARASKY: Thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: Do you feel like the Republican super PACs and these other groups attacking Trump are doing your job for you?

BARASKY: Well, they're certainly saving us millions of dollars. It's definitely not unhelpful. One does wonder why they weren't doing it much sooner. But sure, I mean, they're making our job easier if in fact Donald Trump is the nominee.

MONTAGNE: Well, of course, Donald Trump says it's not at all hurtful. Those attack ads aren't working, pointing to his winning streak across primary after primary. But I gather you're gearing up, you being Priorities USA, are gearing up to run your ads now. Why do you think what you have to say in your ads will be any different than when the Republicans went after him?

BARASKY: Well, I think I see a few things. First of all, there's a huge difference between a primary electorate and a general electorate. So a message that may not resonate with a small percentage of voters who support Donald Trump in a Republican primary, that message could end up resonating with a much larger electorate that frankly includes Democrats and independents.

Second of all, in some ways, the ads are working. There's a national poll out that has Donald Trump's fave-unfave (ph) at 30-60, which is unbelievably unpopular. So I think that in many ways we're not seeing an accurate representation of how the general electorate will respond once it's a one-on-one race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, if in fact that is their nominee.

And furthermore, we began planning at Priorities last summer for a potential Trump candidacy. And we're doing all the things that you would expect a campaign to do to make sure that we do have a message that resonates, you know, polling, focus grouping, et cetera.

MONTAGNE: Well, have you learned anything from Republican anti-Trump efforts that you are going to be bringing to your own fight against him?

BARASKY: Sure, absolutely. I mean, I think we've learned a few key things. One is you can't beat Donald Trump by ignoring him, which was the Republican strategy for much of this primary. Two, you can't hope that someone else will take care of him, which I think was also much of the Republican strategy. And then finally, you can't beat him by lowering yourself into the mud with him.

There are a few areas in which his record is far outside the mainstream of the American public, and those would be his temperament. Is his record of enriching himself at the expense of others something that the average voter's going to find appropriate?

MONTAGNE: Although, of course, Donald Trump would say, and it's certainly true of many of his supporters, that the very things that attract them to him are his temperament, what he has to say and how he made his money.

BARASKY: Well, certainly, he embraces a number of these things that will be negatives in the general election. But again, I think there's a big difference between what a segment of the Republican primary electorate responds to and what the American people as a whole will respond to.

MONTAGNE: Well, one thing - is there anything that surprised you that the Republicans have not tried?

BARASKY: Well, at this point no. But the thing that surprised me the most was how long they waited. I mean, you had debate after debate after debate where no one stood up to Donald Trump, certainly not Marco Rubio, certainly not Ted Cruz, who did his best to put his arm around him, you know? Even Jeb Bush waited until it was clear that he was struggling pretty badly.

And I'm not going to pretend that Democrats were all on the other side and we knew he was going to win and we knew he was going to be the nominee if in fact he is. But it was curious why the person who was in first place for so long was relatively untouched up until it may end up being too late.

MONTAGNE: Justin Barasky is a spokesman for Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC. Thank you for joining us.

BARASKY: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thanks for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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