Trump addresses supporters at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., last week. (Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)
Donald Trump has received plenty of free publicity from the media for his 2016 presidential bid, but the Republican frontrunner’s campaign is reportedly about to open the billionaire’s war chest for a major TV ad blitz to bolster his candidacy ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
According to Fox News, the “initial wave of ads” — which could cost upwards of $2 million a week — will focus on Trump’s “vision and his stance on key issues … but that could change if any GOP rivals target him with negative commercials.”
This month, Right to Rise, the super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s campaign, made a $3 million ad buy for a 30-second spot aimed at Trump, proclaiming the former Florida governor “one candidate tough enough to take on the bully.”
The TV ad, which ran in Iowa and New Hampshire, used a testy exchange between the Republican hopefuls during the recent GOP debate in Las Vegas.
“Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency,” Bush told Trump.
The real estate mogul subsequently fired back on Twitter, on television and at his campaign rallies, but has yet to use his vast fortune to buy an attack ad targeting Bush, who is lagging far behind in most national polls.
Last month, the Trump campaign spent a scant $300,000 on a series of radio ads that ran in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. None called out Trump’s rivals by name.
“Our country is in deep trouble,” Trump said in one spot. “Because, let’s face it, politicians are all talk, no action.”
In another, a woman promises Trump will “stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking by building a wall on our southern border,” “brutally and quickly cut off the head of ISIS” and “make our military so strong, no country will ever mess with us.”
The Trump campaign originally budgeted $25 million for advertising during the third quarter of this year, according to the report, but scrapped those plans as the brash billionaire continued to dominate each news cycle with his controversial comments about, well, pretty much everything.
For example, Trump appeared on Fox News for a total of 22 hours and 46 minutes from May 1 to Dec. 15 — more than twice the air time of any other candidate, according to Media Matters.
From Jan. 1 through Nov. 30, ABC, CBS and NBC’s nightly network newscasts devoted 234 minutes to Trump, according to the Tyndall Report — far more than any other presidential candidate. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton received 113 minutes of coverage, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received 10 minutes.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is currently Trump’s closest GOP challenger, got even less coverage, garnering just 7 minutes of nightly news coverage.