A pro-Trump political group is eyeing a big investment in four 2020 battleground states.
The Committee to Defend the President told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview it would invest $1 million each in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Its efforts will be primarily focused on mobilizing and registering one million new voters from those jurisdictions.
Ted Harvey, the group’s chairman, told Breitbart News it was “crucial” for President Donald Trump to be reelected so he could continue to move the country forward for all Americans.
“You look at what the president has done without even having Congress on his side,” Harvey said. “He has has some significant successes, if he didn’t have the Mueller investigation over his head as a distraction I think he would have far greater successes.”
Now that Mueller investigation was over, Harvey expressed the political battle was just starting.
“Some of these states no one thought we were going to win in 2016, but we did,” Harvey said. “If we can continue to hold them it sends a strong message to the rest of the country.”
He said that Trump is reelected and Republicans take control of Congress it would make it more difficult for Democrats to continue obstructing the president’s agenda and push for impeachment. Such a result, however, won’t come easy.
“It’s going to take a concerted effort to mobilize Trump supporters and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he added.
The Committee to Defend the President, formerly known as Stop Hillary PAC, spent more than $6 million during the 2016 presidential election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of the money went to targeted advertising to highlight former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attacks.
Now the group has turned its attention to defending Trump from what it sees as an organized attempt by the left to derail his presidency.
“When we saw Democrats throwing a national temper tantrum after the election—literally the very next day having organized uprisings all across the country to discredit the election and the incoming administration—we decided to dedicate ourselves 100 percent to defending the president and his agenda from the left-wing media and Democrats.”
The group’s efforts have been multifaceted since Trump took office. It’s touted the president’s achievements during his first 100 days in office, run ads pressuring senators to back judicial nominations, and vigorously countered Democrat’s calls for impeachment.
In 2018, the committee heavily intervened in congressional races to ensure the president’s allies were elected. One of the most successful efforts took place in Tennessee, where the committee invested $1 million to see Marsha Blackburn elected to the U.S. Senate.
Instead of just blanketing the state with advertising like some other groups, the committee invested time and resources in expanding Tennessee’s midterm electorate.
“We spent over a million dollars going after identified Trump supporters who voted for the president in 2016, but typically do not vote in off-year elections,” Harvey said. “Through our sophisticated social media an tracking system, we were able to identify 350,000 such voters.”
Once they were identified, the committee worked ensure these voters showed up on election day. Starting in February 2018, the group spent more $680,000 on television and social media ads targeted specifically targeting such voters. Knowing that ads weren’t enough, the committee spent more than $160,000 on grassroots outreach—knocking on more than 70,000 doors across the state. Money was also spent on get the out vote and direct mail, among other initiatives.
It is impossible to tell the extent of the committee’s impact in Tennessee, but the results seem to indicate some measure of success. Turnout was significantly higher than during the state’s last Senate race in 2014. Blackburn defeated Phil Bredesen, a popular former Democrat governor, by more than 242,000 votes. Although the victory was not totally surprising given Tennessee’s shift toward Republicans, Blackburn won even after being outspent by nearly three million dollars.
Harvey said his group will build off the tactics formed in Tennessee when registering and mobilizing voters in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florid ahead of the presidential election. This time, though, the individuals being targeted will be different.
“We’re going after people that have been disenfranchised in the political process for one reason or another,” Harvey said. “Whether they are veterans that have come back from their service and have yet to register to vote or just don’t think they’re vote matters anymore.”
The committee plans to “identify a million people” that “believe in securing our border, believe in the Second Amendment, are pro-life, and pro-military.” Harvey said these will not necessarily be individuals conventionally drawn to politics, but rather those who feel left behind by the status quo.
“I think there is a huge groundswell of people that have been disenfranchised by the political process of the last few decades,” he said. “They don’t think their vote counts because most Republican and Democrat presidents have ignored them and their problems.”
Despite the years of neglect, Harvey expressed Trump’s standing as an outsider and his willingness to push partisan orthodoxy has created an opening among such voters.
“I think because Trump has been pursuing policies that are actually benefiting them and their families, we can get these people registered and involved” he said.
The committee believes states in the rust belt, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, are especially fertile territory.
“Pennsylvania was essentially the forgotten America that Trump campaigned about in 2016,” Harvey said. “The state was significantly impacted by trade agreements, whether it was NAFTA or the trade arrangements with China, Pennsylvania was losing manufacturing jobs and other industries heavily.”
“If you look what has occurred since Trump took office and started implementing his policies,” Harvey said, citing the president tax cuts and tariffs on steel. “Pennsylvania has had more than 5,000 new manufacturing jobs come back, they have had 120,000 overall jobs come back.”
“So we should be able to tell that story in Pennsylvania and other states across the country,” Harvey said. “There is a powerful message here to reach Americans that feel disenfranchised.”
The committee’s focus is also strategic. Trump only carried the two states marginally—Pennsylvania by less than 45,000 votes and Michigan by less than 11,000 votes—in 2016. Victories there, along with North Carolina, Florida and Wisconsin, made Trump’s electoral college victory possible, despite a three million popular vote deficit.
Harvey expressed the political realities presented by 2020 and helping Americans who feel left behind are connected.
“If we don’t hold the White House and take back the U.S. House of Representatives, we’re never going to be able to secure the border or stop the stream of drug and human traffickers coming across,” he said. “If Trump is not president and Republicans don’t control congress, than many of the issues important to those that feel disenfranchised can’t be addressed.”
Harvey citied the Trump’s stance on trade with China as proof.
“This president is the only one in the last 30-t0-40 years to take China seriously, not only as threat to our economy, but also as a threat to stability around the world,” he said. “This president is finally pointing out the ways China is breaking the rules, he’s holding them to task by changing these trade agreement to ensure they’re enforceable and fair.”
“That’s good for America,” Harvey added. “That’s good for American workers and it will be good for consumers as well.”