WASHINGTON — Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is making “nasty” ads about him. Most of Clinton’s commercials about Trump, though, merely include clips of him speaking. Her campaign seems to have concluded that Trump is his own worst enemy.
The most frequently used Clinton advertisements about Trump have a common theme: They show regular people, often in the flicker of a television set, spliced with footage of Trump making some of his most incendiary comments. The Republican presidential nominee’s decades in the spotlight, including as a reality television show host, have given the Democratic contender an unusual bounty of ad material.
Trump is paying attention. During Monday’s debate, he told Clinton he’s noticed “the very nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don’t do on you.”
That prompted Shonda Rhimes, a television producer and Clinton supporter, to tweet: “Wait. She did not run ads that say mean things. She ran ads that use audio of his own mean nasty statements.”
The Associated Press reviewed Clinton’s 32 different general election ads that have aired on broadcast television and national cable and found 24 that show or mention Trump. The majority of those feature raw footage of him rather than others opining on his words and actions.
Trump’s assessment at the debate that he’s not running “nasty” ads about Clinton also isn’t quite right. Through this week, his campaign had only four different ads — three of which swat at Clinton, including one that highlights her “basket of deplorables” comment about his supporters.
While Trump is just starting to expand his advertising — promising at least $100 million in TV spots by Election Day — Clinton has already spent $136 million on general election spots, Kantar Media’s political ad tracker shows.
Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment about why Trump characterized the Clinton ads about him as “nasty.” During the debate, he seemed to say it’s because they lack context.
“You know, Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials,” he said. “Some of it’s said in entertainment.” He named Rosie O’Donnell as one of his targets, saying “she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.”
One of Clinton’s newest ads, called “Mirrors,” shows girls looking at their reflections, brushing their hair and taking selfies while Trump says things like “look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers” and “a person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.” Trump lobbed the former barb at O’Donnell and the latter at actress Nicollette Sheridan.
The 30-second spot debuted late last week and has already aired 4,000 times.
It’s a female-specific twist on what has been her most frequently shown ad, called “Role Models.”
In that spot, which has aired more than 15,300 times since it debuted in mid-July, children are lounging around television sets as Trump says, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK,” and replays a clip of him saying a curse word, which is bleeped out.
The spot ends with the text: “Our children are watching. What kind of president will they see?”
Other Clinton ads seek to portray Trump as an unsteady leader by highlighting his comments about turning to himself and Sunday talk shows for military advice. “I am speaking with myself because I have a very good brain,” Trump says in an interview that’s included in several Clinton spots.
The campaign also beams his words into Democratic households that Clinton is trying to motivate.
In Spanish-language commercials, voters can hear Trump’s description at his campaign kickoff last year of some Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.” In a new commercial on BET, Trump’s question to African-Americans at a recent campaign stop, “What the hell do you have to lose?” by voting for him is played. The Clinton campaign answers with text on the screen: “EVERYTHING.”
Still more Trump footage finds its way into dozens of ads by Priorities USA, a super PAC backing Clinton.
Trump has continued to provide a steady stream of new material.
During the debate, Clinton mentioned Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe whom Trump had called “Miss Piggy” when he owned the pageant. Trump continued talking about Machado the next morning. “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” he told Fox News.
That clip is now part of a Clinton campaign video that went online Wednesday.
This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Nicollette Sheridan’s name.
Keep track on how much Clinton and Trump are spending on television advertising, and where they’re spending it, via AP’s interactive ad tracker. http://elections.ap.org/content/ad-spending
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