President Trump’s allies are launching Spanish-language attack ads in Nevada designed to knock the sputtering Joe Biden out of the race for good.
After weak results in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden’s supporters are hoping that the swing to more diverse states will help him build momentum before reaching his South Carolina primary firewall at the end of the month.
It makes Saturday’s caucus a potentially pivotal moment as the president talks up the candidacy of Bernie Sanders to secure what he and his advisers see as the most beatable candidate for the general election.
For all his stumbles, Biden still comes out as the best-placed Democrat in head-to-head matchups with Trump, such as the RealClearPolitics average of national polls that has him up 4.8 points.
The Committee to Defend the President, one of the largest pro-Trump super PACs, is spending $255,000 on adverts attacking Biden’s record on immigration reform. The 30-second Spanish language clips will run until caucus day on MSNBC, NBC, and Nevada’s local stations.
The group’s chairman, Ted Harvey, said: “The mainstream media has spent three years trying to rewrite history and define President Trump as anti-immigrant. It is time for Joe Biden, the Democrats, and all of their apologists to be called out for their hypocrisy on immigration.”
Meanwhile, Never Trump Republicans are encouraging supporters to reregister as Democrats to propel a more moderate candidate to the nomination.
A senior GOP source said the result was something of a proxy war as pro-Trump and anti-Trump Republicans maneuvered for advantage.
“Of course, Trump allies are attacking Biden,” she said. “They realize that a socialist candidate isn’t going to come close to beating Trump, but that a more moderate, experienced candidate like Joe Biden has a real chance to beat him in a general election, so they’re trying to get ahead of that race early.”
The Biden campaign is already in a precarious position after placing fourth in the Iowa caucus and fifth in the New Hampshire primary, where he failed to win any delegates.
That makes Nevada a “do or die” state, said Frank Lavin, a commentator who worked in Ronald Reagan’s White House, adding that second place or better would put him back in the game.
“I think this is his last shot, potentially,” he told CNBC.
Trump himself has weighed in with advice to supporters throughout the nomination process, calling for them to promote the weakest possible Democrat in states where crossing from one party to another is possible.
“So I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats,” he said in New Hampshire on the eve of its primary. The only problem, he added, was figuring out who was the weakest candidate.
But that is bad advice, said Tim Miller, a former Jeb Bush aide and now the director of Center Action Now.
“You are playing with fire,” he said. “The Democrats did some of this in 2016 and argued for supporting Donald Trump to win the nomination, with the theory that he was the weakest.
“And you see how that turned out.”
His group is appealing to center-right voters who dislike Trump to help pick a Democrat that could challenge the president. Nevada’s system means disaffected Republicans and independents can register as a Democrat on caucus day, he said.
“We’re encouraging voters to go into the primary and support somebody that they can earnestly support, rather than voting for the worst candidate and putting the country at risk,” he added.