Biden’s big ad advantage won’t last forever: From the Politics Desk

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Biden's big ad advantage won't last forever: From the Politics Desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, we report on Joe Biden’s big advertising advantage — and why it’s going to disappear. Plus, senior national political reporter Jonathan Allen analyzes why Hunter Biden’s trial is bad news for Donald Trump.

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Biden’s big ad advantage won’t last forever

By Ben Kamisar

Get ready: Donald Trump’s cavalry is coming, after months of a mostly unanswered pounding on the airwaves courtesy of President Joe Biden’s campaign.

MAGA Inc., a pro-Trump super PAC, announced plans this week to spend $100 million on ads across key swing states this summer. It’s a headline worth paying attention to for a number of reasons.

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As Trump-world is turning his felony conviction into a financial windfall, the big question for the former president and his orbit is: How can they use that cash most effectively in a race in which they’ve been out-raised and out-spent?

The announcement is set to fundamentally transform the ad-spending landscape in a race that’s so far been dominated by Democrats. Since March 13 (the day after both Trump and Biden were projected as their party’s presumptive nominees), Biden and his top allied groups have outspent Trump and his groups by 3 to 1 on the airwaves.

It’s a dramatic difference from how things looked over a similar period in 2020. From April 8 (after Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his Democratic primary bid against Biden) through June 6, 2020, Trump and his top allies had the ad-spending edge over Biden.

It’s hard to say how a bevy of summer spending by Trump’s super PAC (and Democratic groups, too) will influence this race, one that remains well within the margin of error despite a massive Democratic spending gap and Trump’s recent conviction. But however much it counts in a static race, Biden’s advertising has been an objective advantage for his re-election campaign over the last three months — and Republicans are about to make a deep cut into that advantage.

By Jonathan Allen

Hunter Biden’s trial is embarrassing for President Joe Biden and his family, but its mere existence blows a major hole in former President Donald Trump’s public defense of his own criminal convictions.

Hunter, the president’s surviving son, is accused of illegally purchasing a gun while being addicted to drugs. The trial is eliciting painful testimony about Hunter’s ill-fated romantic relationship with his brother Beau’s widow, Hallie Biden, and his frequent use of crack cocaine.

The alleged crime at the center of the trial — lying about being addicted on a federal firearm-purchasing form — arises from the so-called Brady Bill, a gun-control law from the early 1990s. Joe Biden was a leading proponent of that measure, and he was pretty clear about his feelings surrounding weapons and drugs when the bill was under consideration during the crack epidemic of the time.

He told The Associated Press in 1991 that he thought addicts “must be forced off the street and into jails, prisons and drug treatment centers.”

In that way, Hunter’s prosecution demonstrates consistency in the president’s position, even when his son’s freedom is on the line, and, perhaps more important for the 2024 election, that he is not interfering in a federal trial in which he has tremendous personal interest in the outcome.

Offering no evidence, Trump has routinely accused the president of masterminding a Democratic conspiracy to persecute him by prosecution. In the wake of Trump’s conviction on 34 counts related to his effort to help his 2016 campaign by falsifying business records to hide an alleged affair, Trump has said he will have “every right” to prosecute his political adversaries if he wins the presidency again in 2024.

His logic is that if Biden can direct prosecutions, so can he. But Biden isn’t interfering in any of the cases.

Biden has no formal sway over the Manhattan prosecutors who tried Trump’s case, nor did he have any role in returning a grand jury indictment against Trump or coordinating the unanimous judgment of the 12 trial jurors who found Trump guilty.

There is no evidence of Biden improperly influencing the two federal criminal trials Trump faces — which are being prosecuted by a special counsel operating independently and not “subject to the day-to-day supervision” of anyone in the Justice Department Biden oversees. Similarly, there’s no indication that he has played a role in a Georgia case in which Trump is accused of illegally attempting to overturn that state’s election results in 2020.

So, what voters are left with is Trump making a hard-to-believe claim that Biden is interfering in his trials but not in Hunter’s case. It remains to be seen whether Hunter will be found guilty or whether the president will pardon him — Biden told ABC News on Thursday that he had ruled out a pardon — but what’s clear for the moment is that the president is respecting the rule of law when it comes to his own son’s fate.

Trump’s base won’t care.

But for swing voters who worry about presidents abusing their power to reward friends and punish enemies, Biden is demonstrating exactly the kind of restraint that Trump accuses him of abandoning.

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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