Clinton, Trump launch late TV ad blitz in Michigan

Chad Livengood, and Jonathan Oosting

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are launching a late television advertising blitz in Michigan for the final seven days of the presidential election as the Republican nominee makes a last-ditch bid to turn the state in his favor.

Clinton also is coming back to Michigan for a get-out-the-vote rally Friday in the Democratic stronghold of Detroit.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump exchange views during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Clinton campaign was preparing Tuesday to launch what a top Michigan campaign official described as a six-figure statewide TV advertising purchase, matching Trump’s decision to go back on the air and intensifying the final week of the presidential race.

“This is an opportunity to continue to communicate with voters across the state,” Stephen Neuman, senior adviser to Clinton’s Michigan campaign, told The Detroit News. “We’ve got a massive cash-on-hand advantage and that gives us an opportunity to really press our case in the final week.”

Trump’s campaign announced Tuesday it was adding Michigan and New Mexico to a $25 million, 13-state advertising blitz over the final seven days of the campaign. A Trump aide told The News the campaign's Michigan TV ad buy would be more than $750,000 for the final seven days.

David Bossie, deputy campaign manager for Trump, characterized Clinton’s advertising as a defensive measure to shore up a state that has been carried by Democratic candidates in each election since her husband first won Michigan in 1992.

“She is on defense, we’re on offense,” Bossie said in a conference call with reporters. “We’re expanding our map, and she’s trying to guarantee her solid blue states, and we feel real good about that.”

Clinton’s Friday visit will mark the latest point in a campaign cycle that a Democratic presidential candidate has defended the state since 2004, when John Kerry narrowly won here but lost the national race, according to Susan Demas, owner and editor of Inside Michigan Politics. Kerry held a Warren rally seven days before Election Day.

“It definitely looks like both candidates are playing here in the final week,” Demas said. “The polling has been pretty stable, but clearly this is ground that Clinton doesn’t want to cede, and this is a state that Donald Trump really wants to pick up.”

Trump has to prevail in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Iowa and then “pick off” a Democratic-leaning state like Michigan or Wisconsin to capture the minimum 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, Bossie said.

“Once we do that, we put ourselves in a position to win one of those other swing states,” he told reporters.

Bossie did not disclose how much the campaign was spending on ads in Michigan. Trump’s campaign confirmed one of the ads airing in Michigan includes a scene from a Flint church Trump visited in mid-September.

Ad buy shows Mich. in play

Trump spent about $654,000 on one week of advertising on Michigan broadcast TV affiliates during the first week of September.

Clinton hasn’t advertised on Michigan airwaves since the Democratic primaries, when she aired an estimated $2.6 million in TV ads in February and March, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Trump’s new ad buy in Michigan is evidence the race is tightening as Election Day nears, said Saul Anuzis, a Republican consultant and former Michigan GOP chairman.

“Michigan is a purple state that can go red under the right circumstances,” Anuzis said.

Howard Edelson, a Democratic strategist from Ann Arbor, said Trump’s advertising and campaigning in Michigan are an attempt to “play head games” with the Clinton campaign.

“I think this is last-minute gamesmanship by the Trump campaign to make people think that Michigan is in play when it’s not,” Edelson said.

Both the Trump and Clinton teams have their get-out-the-vote operations in full swing headed into the final weekend before Tuesday’s election. The effort includes a stream of top surrogates visiting Michigan to whip up support from their respective party bases.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the self-declared democratic socialist, will be back in Michigan on Wednesday to stump for Clinton in Kalamazoo and Traverse City.

“For the Clinton campaign to send surrogates is to make sure to not take anything for granted and close big here,” Edelson said.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the self-declared democratic socialist, will be back in Michigan to stump for Hillary Clinton in Kalamazoo and Traverse City.

Top surrogates plan visits

Sanders will hold a rally at noon Wednesday at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium and then head to Traverse City for a 3:15 p.m. event at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and oldest son, Donald Jr., are fanning out Wednesday in Michigan.

Donald Trump Jr. has campaign rallies planned for Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. The Trump Jr. rally at MSU begins at 12:30 p.m., and his appearance at GVSU begins at 3:30 p.m., according to the Trump campaign.

Ivanka Trump will be in Oakland County attending a roundtable discussion with women business leaders and host a community forum at the Detroit Marriott Troy on Big Beaver Road. The community forum begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

The Trump children’s trip to Michigan follows two large campaign rallies the elder Trump held Monday in Grand Rapids and Warren.

In Warren, Donald Trump claimed the race here is “even,” even as a Real Clear Politics average of recent statewide public polls in Michigan showed Clinton with a 6-percentage-point edge over the New York real estate mogul.

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is expected to campaign Thursday in Michigan, though details of the visit were not available Tuesday evening.

The Clinton campaign is not taking Michigan for granted, especially after Sanders upset her in the Michigan primary.

“We’ve been campaigning hard in Michigan, we’re continuing to play hard and now that it’s the final week it’s time to invest these resources that we have and Michigan is the place to do it,” Neuman said.

Donald Trump Jr. will campaign for his father Wednesday at Michigan State University in East Lansing and Grand Valley State University in Allendale.

Abortion rights battle arises

The sudden shift to Michigan in Trump’s strategy comes as the powerful anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan has been spurred into action.

Right to Life of Michigan’s political “victory fund” on Monday reported pumping $35,278 into mailers supporting the Republican nominee and opposing Clinton.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, a group that seeks to promote access to safe and legal abortion, reported spending $13,692 on pro-Clinton canvassing in mid-October.

“If Hillary Clinton is elected president, her appointments will affect the Supreme Court beyond the year 2040,” Right to Life of Michigan legislative director Ed Rivet said Monday at a Trump rally near Grand Rapids. “And make no mistake, her intention is to stack the court with liberal activist judges.”

Rivet noted Michigan’s laws reinforcing a ban on taxpayer-funded abortion and requiring teens to have parental consent for abortion, suggesting Clinton would seek to strike them down.

“Everything is at stake in this election, and only one candidate has an unwavering position for life, for religious liberty and for our fundamental rights,” he said.

Trump has wavered on abortion rights over the years. In a 1999 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the New York businessman said he was “very pro-choice” but hated the concept of abortion.

As a candidate this cycle, he’s called himself “pro-life” and “totally against” abortion. In his third and final debate with Clinton, Trump predicted if he got to appoint two or three justices, the Supreme Court would inevitably overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to have an abortion.

Clinton has said she strongly supports Roe v. Wade.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, campaigned for Clinton in Michigan after the debate, helping kick off canvassing events in Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Mount Clemens, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.