Biden unloads on Trump in ad: ‘A convicted criminal who’s only out for himself’

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Joe Biden’s campaign is unleashing its most biting attack yet against Donald Trump, ripping into his 34 felonies in a TV ad for the first time after largely ignoring his criminal trial for weeks.

The ad, part of the campaign’s $50 million June ad buy, represents a test of whether a scorching negative campaign against the former president can drag him down from his current polling lead.

The ad, which will air across battleground states starting Monday, casts the election as a stark choice “between a convicted criminal who’s only out for himself and a president who’s fighting for your family.” It’s a full-on assault on Trump — and a theme the campaign is turning to in an effort to reset Biden’s reelection from a referendum on his job performance to a choice between the president and his predecessor.

“In the courtroom, we see Donald Trump for who he is. He’s been convicted of 34 felonies, found liable for sexual assault and he committed financial fraud,” the ad’s narrator says, flashing photos of Trump sitting in the courtroom. “Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s been working — lowering health care costs and making big corporations pay their fair share.”

The campaign’s shift to more forceful and direct rhetoric comes just more than a week before the June 27 debate, when Biden and Trump will face off for the first time in four years in Atlanta. And with Biden aides believing that voters have largely not yet tuned into the general election campaign, it represents an opening salvo in their messaging against Trump.

The ad, leaning hard into Trump’s felony convictions for the first time, marks a reversal for the Biden campaign’s approach to the former president’s legal entanglements. In May, Biden and his campaign took a subdued approach, cautioning that there is “only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office,” by voting in November, even as other Democrats urged them to go on the attack. But by early June, after the Biden campaign held a press conference outside Trump’s courtroom and Biden road-tested the “convicted felon” line at a fundraiser, one campaign official said that they were “not going to shy away from what the reality is” of Trump’s convictions.

In its social media posts, the campaign also started ratcheting up the pressure in recent weeks, more regularly referring to Trump as a “convicted felon.” During Trump’s trial proceedings, the campaign sold shirts saying “Free on Wednesdays," a jab at the former president’s schedule, which required him to be in the courtroom most weekdays during the trial. And earlier this month, the Democratic National Committee tagged Trump as a “convicted felon” in billboards in swing states, the first paid effort to emphasize his new status.

The ad is part of a $50 million ad buy for June, airing in swing states and nationally on broadcast, cable and connected TV through the rest of the month. The campaign did not say how much money it was putting behind the new ad, specifically.

Trump has used his guilty verdict in the hush-money trial as a rallying cry for his base, raising tens of millions of dollars in trial’s aftermath and portraying the proceedings as “rigged.” Campaigning in Michigan over the weekend, he told supporters that “all of their persecution of me and others is only happening because I’m running for president and leading very big in the polls.”

In a statement released alongside the ad, the Biden campaign’s communications director, Michael Tyler, called the 2024 election “a stark contrast, and it’s one that matters deeply to the American people.”

He added, “And it’s why we will make sure that every single day we are reminding voters about how Joe Biden is fighting for them, while Donald Trump runs a campaign focused on one man and one man only: himself.”