PALM BEACH, Fla. – Just in time for Election Day, President Donald Trump's last South Florida rally and expectations the first lady will cast her vote locally, the Times Square billboards showing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner seemingly delighting in the death and suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be floating near Mar-a-Lago this weekend.
The billboards are the latest salvo fired by The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group of mostly Republicans, that has inundated the Internet with ads targeting Trump and other Republican candidates.
"This falls into our psychological warfare — to take them off message," said Ron Steslow, one of the founders of the project. "We hit the bull's eye with these."
On one billboard, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior White House adviser, gestures like a game show hostess to statistics about Covid-19 deaths. The image was taken from a photo she originally posted showing her cradling a can of Goya beans in response to Goya facing a boycott.
On the billboard, the can is no longer in the photo. Instead, it's the national coronavirus death toll.
Kushner, a senior White House adviser, smiles from an adjacent billboard lined with orange and white body bags. The image has a quote attributed to him in a Vanity Fair article, in which he reportedly said New Yorkers will suffer during the pandemic and "that’s their problem.”
“If these billboard ads are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages,” wrote the couple's lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz.
The Lincoln Project didn't blink. Not only do the billboards remain in Manhattan this weekend — they will be coming to Mar-a-Lago, too.
A lawyer for The Lincoln Project wrote: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster ...Your clients are no longer mere Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are public officials ... Sue if you must.”
The arrival of the billboards in Palm Beach resurrects the Trump billboard wars that began in the fall of 2017 along the presidential motorcade routetraveled by the president when going to and from Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach International Airport as well as Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.
The first billboard went up in September 2017, when a group called Impeach Trump Now paid about $4,800 to lease a billboard calling for Trump's impeachment.
In March 2018, Mad Dog PAC, a grassroots political action committee, leased one side of a three-sided billboard along the motorcade route. The red, white and blue billboard read: “Impeachment Now, Make America America Again."
The anti-Trump billboard so angered the Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump group, that it leased the opposite side of the billboard and installed a nearly identical red, white and blue sign that thanked the president.
Mad Dog PAC fired back in Jan. 2019 with a bright red billboard depicting three letters — GOP — the acronym for the Republican Party, with the "O" replaced by a hammer and sickle, the Soviet symbol of proletarian solidarity.
As part of its campaign to catch the eye of the president and guests at Mar-a-Lago, the group cruised the intracoastal waterway near Mar-a-Lago on a Saturday afternoon in late 2018 aboard a 30-foot boat with a 14-foot tall inflatable rat propped on the aft deck. The rat sported a suit, red tie, yellow pompadour hair, and clutched a cellphone.
On Friday afternoon, the Lincoln Project's billboards were propped on a barge near Miami, heading north to Mar-a-Lago. Earlier this week, the president and first lady were both expected at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.
The first lady is expected to vote in person on Tuesday at a polling place near Mar-a-Lago. The president will hold a rally in north Miami-Dade County late Sunday night; it will be his sixth rally of that day. His travel plans after that are unknown, but Palm Beach town officials say they do not believe the president will come to the island this weekend.
While the barge off Mar-a-Lago this weekend bearing The Lincoln Project's billboard has the best chance of catching the first-couple's attention, the project also plans to have a truck with the billboards circling Trump Tower in Manhattan this weekend.
Although Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner moved to Washington after Trump became president, the couple maintain a home in New York.
The exact time and location the billboards will be visible off Mar-a-Lago are not yet known, Steslow said.
Follow Christine Stapleton on Twitter: @PBPostStapleton.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Lincoln Project brings viral anti-Trump billboards to Mar-a-Lago