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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's reelection campaign says it is ramping up advertising spending in battleground states, a move that comes as some of his allies have grown worried because Democrat Joe Biden has outspent him in recent weeks.

The Trump campaign announced the “eight-figure” ad buy Tuesday, but declined to say specifically how much will be spent in states that include North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The campaign also said it intends to run ads targeting congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska — two states that do not use a winner-take-all approach toward awarding electors.

Trump has an outsized ability to command national media attention and has often shown himself adept at shaping the terms of political debate to his liking. But after struggling to significantly erode Biden's standing in public opinion polls, advertising remains one of the best tools available to help alter the trajectory of an election that is quickly approaching.

That sets up a high-stakes dilemma for Trump campaign officials who are making key spending decisions at a time when Democrats have shattered fundraising records and overtaken what was once a formidable cash advantage enjoyed by Republicans.

“This week’s advertising continues our strategic plan to follow the dates on the calendar, the states that are voting early, the data that always guides our decision-making and our pathway,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.

Still, even as the campaign announced the renewed commitment, it continued to be outspent by Biden. It has also reserved significant amounts of air time in states that Trump won handily in 2016, including $15 million set aside for Ohio, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

The campaign has also abruptly cancelled some of its airtime at the last minute, including a series of ads that were supposed to run last week in Arizona, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The Trump campaign said the moves were part of a broader shift in advertising spending.

Meanwhile, in Trump's adopted home state of Florida, billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last weekend that he would spend at least $100 million of his own money to defeat Trump there. That's likely to put Trump at a disadvantage unless he ups the $32.6 million in ad time he's reserved in the state.

The advertisements Trump is running against Biden use the voices of everyday people to attack the former vice president and try to turn his longevity as a Washington deal maker into a liability.

"Joe Biden could never handle the economy after COVID. There's no way. It would be a disaster," says a woman who is identified as a small business owner in one battleground state ad. “Joe Biden has done absolutely nothing for America in 47 years.”

Another portrays Biden as soft on China and supportive of “bad trade deals” that have helped offshore good paying jobs.

The ads “focus on the economy, which will be the defining issue of the race, and contrasts President Trump’s strong economic record with Joe Biden’s 47 years of failure,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “The ads airing on local television beginning Tuesday feature real people whose lives have been positively impacted by President Trump’s policies."

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Democrats to redraft virus relief in bid to jump-start talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are going back to the drawing board on a huge COVID-19 relief bill, paring back the measure in an attempt to jump-start negotiations with the Trump administration.

The Democratic-controlled chamber could also pass the $2 trillion-plus measure next week if talks fall through to demonstrate that the party isn’t giving up on passing virus relief before the election.

The chamber passed a $3.4 trillion rescue measure in May but Republicans dismissed the measure as bloated and unrealistic. Even as Democrats cut their ambitions to $2.2 trillion or so, Senate Republicans have focused on a much smaller rescue package in the $650 billion to $1 trillion range.

An aide familiar with the leadership discussions and authorized to characterize them said the new bill would total about $2.4 trillion and is likely to contain additional relief for the airline and restaurant sectors, which have been especially slammed by slumps in business from the virus. The aide requested anonymity to characterize the closed-door talks.

“We’re trying to figure out how to move a negotiation forward because we believe the American people need some help. And so we’re going to try,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “Our chairs are looking at everything again and the hope is that we can come up with something.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., commissioned the effort, which caused a buzz in Washington’s lobbying industry even as hopes for a deal between the Democratic-controlled House, the GOP-held Senate, and the White House still seems to be a longshot.

“We are still striving for an agreement,” Pelosi told her colleagues, according to the aide. “If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor.”

Recent talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have gone nowhere, but neither side wants to officially give up.

Thursday’s developments come as moderate “front line” Democrats in competitive reelection races have been pressing leaders like Pelosi to become more flexible. Some participated in drafting a $1.5 trillion bipartisan bill that fell flat when outlined last week. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, however, say they are uninterested in a “message vote” that offers political cover but fails to catch on with the Senate or the White House.

“We’re focused on a negotiation, we want to get a deal with Secretary Mnuchin and the Senate because we want to get people help, not just messages,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The revised measure is likely to contain scaled-back proposals to give aid to state and local governments, $1,200 direct payments to most Americans, more than $100 billion in aid to schools seeking to safely reopen, and funding for renewed pandemic jobless benefits and production of a COVID vaccine.

“I think we’re headed towards a resurgence of the virus in the fall, and until we defeat the virus, you’re not going to have full economic recovery,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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