While it hasn’t helped his standing much, John Kasich hasn’t hesitated to throw elbows on the debate stage, and now his super PAC is ready to do the same in New Hampshire. The Kasich-aligned New Day for America tells Politico that it’s planning to invest $2.5 million on a negative ad blitz in the Granite State. The chief target: Donald Trump.
The group plans a two-month-long assault on the current GOP front-runner across several mediums, including television and radio. Instead of hitting Trump on his past support of liberal causes like single-payer health care or abortion, the super PAC says it will paint the former Celebrity Apprentice host as someone unqualified and unfit for office. Its first ad, which it unveiled late Thursday, opens with a photo of Trump (and one of Ben Carson) side by side with one of President Obama and declares: “On the job training for president does not work.” The goal, one of the men behind the effort says, will be to “accelerate what we believe would be buyers’ remorse.”
I’ve given up trying to predict how conservative voters will respond to All Things Trump, but at this point I’d be surprised if Kasich’s assault works. The ads are trying to make the case for previous political experience—which Kasich has in spades—at a time when GOP voters are telling pollsters that’s exactly what they don’t want. The fact the attack ads are coming from a super PAC and not the candidate, meanwhile, gives Trump an opening to remind voters where he comes down on outside money. The $2.5 million total also sounds larger than it is, since super PACs typically have to pay much higher ad rates than candidates do.
Still, the negative ad blitz is noteworthy since it is the first time that one of Trump’s GOP rivals or accompanying super PACs is spending big to take Trump down. (Earlier this fall, the anti-tax group Club for Growth spent $1 million on a pair of anti-Trump ads in Iowa, but other big groups never followed suit.) For all the hand-wringing among the Republican establishment, the candidates have mostly just hoped that Trump would either collapse on his own or that someone else would be willing to spend the money to make it happen. Kasich and his allies, it appears, blinked first.
*Correction, Nov. 20, 2015: Due to a photo provider error, the caption on this post’s photo originally misspelled the name of Portillo’s Restaurant.