North Carolina Senate candidate targets Trump rally attendees with digital ad

Cal Cunningham criticizes incumbent Tillis in military communities over Trump’s shifting Pentagon funds from NC bases

Democrat Cal Cunningham, who's challenging GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, is launching a digital ad that's intended to reach attendees at Monday evening's rally with President Donald Trump in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is coming to North Carolina on Monday, and Democrats are looking to take advantage of his visit.

Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, who is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis, is releasing a digital ad Monday afternoon that’s geographically targeted to the location of Trump’s rally in Fayetteville, where the president is coming to boost GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop ahead of Tuesday’s redo election in the 9th District

The digital spot, obtained first by CQ Roll Call, highlights Trump’s plan to divert money from the Defense Department to pay for a border wall with Mexico.

Thom Tillis, too weak to fight for North Carolina,” reads the text on screen. The 50-second ad features headlines from the Raleigh News & Observer about the money North Carolina’s military bases could lose. It also includes footage of cable TV personalities criticizing Tillis. 

The ad is backed by a five-figure buy on Facebook and YouTube. That’s a small expenditure as campaign spending goes, but Democrats hope that geographically targeting the message to Trump’s rally Monday night, as well as to military communities around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune, will make it effective. Cunningham is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. 

Running for a second term next year, Tillis is a top Democratic target in a state Trump carried by less than 4 points in 2016. He’s been criticized for his high-profile switch on Trump’s national emergency declaration, having first opposed it in a Washington Post op-ed and later siding with Trump. Tillis is facing a primary challenge but Trump has already endorsed the senator.  

Tillis has a financial advantage over both his primary and Democratic opponent. The senator had $4.4 million in the bank at the end of June, compared to Cunningham’s $683,000. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Tilts Republican


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