Donald Trump campaign plans Michigan TV ads

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is again targeting Michigan in his run for the White House, expanding his first general election television advertising campaign to include the Great Lakes state.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on Monday told Bloomberg TV that Trump ads will soon run in Michigan as part of a roughly $10 million buy originally planned for nine other states.

Trump, set to return to Detroit on Saturday, this week launched a new ad touting his economic plans and criticizing those of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has largely owned the airwaves in recent months.

“Hillary Clinton and her super PAC have spent gazillions of dollars and look at the polls, what has it really gotten them?” Conway said of the lopsided ad battle.

“So we are very happy this ad will be — actually we added a 10th state today, Michigan, to the ad buy — we’re happy it will be running so that we can make our case to middle class voters, all voters about our middle-class tax relief package.”

Clinton led Trump by 9 percentage points in a July 30-Aug. 1 poll Detroit News-WDIV poll of 600 likely Michigan voters. The former secretary of state campaigned in Warren on Aug. 11 after attending a Birmingham fundraiser the prior night.

Recent national polls show Clinton leading Trump by an average of 42 percent to 38 percent in a four-candidate race that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, according Real Clear Politics.

The Trump campaign initially announced its new ads would run in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado.

Michigan “doesn’t fit” on that list, said University of Virginia Center for Politics director Larry Sabato, who also questioned the wisdom of Trump airing ads in Colorado and Virginia, where Clinton is polling well.

But the Trump campaign “has to hope conditions change,” Sabato said in an email. “They need a path to 270 (Electoral College votes), and it is really tough for them.”

Michigan is a likely Democratic state in Sabato’s latest “Crystal Ball” ratings, which projects Clinton could win as many as 348 electoral votes this fall, compared with 190 for Trump.

“As lagging candidates often do, they’re putting a lot of chips on Trump’s debate performance, hoping he can break through and shake up the election,” he said. “Maybe. Doubtful.”

Trump and Clinton are set to debate for the first time on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York state.

Clinton has outspent Trump on general election ads by a wide margin, reportedly pumping more than $75 million into commercials that have aired on national networks broadcast in all 50 states, including Michigan.

“Free The Delegates,” a super political action committee that opposes Clinton but urges Trump to drop out of the race, announced this weekend it would begin airing anti-Trump ads in Michigan and other states. But public records do not yet show any evidence of any spending, and the group has not responded to requests for comment.

Trump has said for months that his campaign will target Michigan, but he has not aired any ads here since the state’s March 8 Republican primary, which he won with 36.5 percent of the vote.

The New York businessman spent roughly $480,000 on Michigan ads ahead of the primary. Clinton spent $3.5 million on Democratic primary ads but was outspent and narrowly defeated by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent $4.2 million here.

But Trump has made Michigan an early focal point of his campaign, stopping here twice this month for a speech at the Detroit Economic Club and a rally in suburban Lansing.

Trump is due back in Detroit on Saturday, when he is expected to continue his recent African-American outreach effort by attending an 11 a.m. church service at Great Faith Ministries International and sitting for an interview with Bishop Wayne T. Jackson.

The Clinton campaign said U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Detroit native and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, hosted a Monday roundtable discussion with young leaders in Detroit, touting Clinton’s economic plans.

Democrats and union members are expected to gather in Detroit on Monday for an annual Labor Day parade, which has attracted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in recent years. The Clinton campaign has not said whether Clinton or another national Democratic Party leader will be in Detroit for the parade.