Geofencing at the Ballot Box

Geofencing at the Ballot Box

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It was a photo op that lasted 17 minutes, one made possible after peaceful protesters were doused with tear gas so President Trump could pose with a Bible outside a church.

One day later, the brazen display is the backdrop for a new ad from Priorities USA, one of the biggest Democratic super PACs. It’s one of the first major ads to attack Mr. Trump for his caustic response to the protests across the country after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The message: The ad is in split screen, with Mr. Trump’s speech promising to send “heavily armed soldiers” into cities, as protesters are shown marching in streets and being accosted by police officers in riot gear. Figures from the news media, mostly heard in voice-overs, comment on his inflammatory language.

The final 10 seconds of the ad feature Bishop Mariann E. Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who oversees the church that Mr. Trump visited. “The president just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” the bishop says in a recording from a CNN interview. “I just can’t believe what my eyes are seeing.”

The takeaway: For most of the past three months, Democratic groups were focusing nearly every ad on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus as his poll numbers trended slightly downward.

But the president’s incendiary response to the protests, and the decision to gas peaceful protesters, all played out in front of dozens of television cameras and hundreds of cellphones. It’s a visceral, raw visual, one likely to fill many more ads in the near future.

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