Hillary Clinton's allies have already begun to prepare for the coming general-election war with Donald Trump even though Democrats haven't officially selected a candidate yet.
Guy Cecil, the head of a pro-Clinton super-political action committee, said Monday that the group will begin airing ads against Trump before June 8, the day after the final states vote in the Democratic primary contest.
“Our job is to be as prepared as we can to take him on in any particular instance and that’s why not only will we be up on June 8, as previously reported, but we’re actually going to go on the air earlier,” Cecil, the head of Priorities USA, told Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on Bloomberg Television’s With All Due Respect.
Of the $91 million of air time the super-PAC has already reserved, Cecil estimated that roughly one quarter to one third of ads will be positive, with the rest painting Trump in a negative light.
Cecil also estimated that about $40 million will be dedicated to online outreach targeting blacks, Latinos, the Democratic base, and millennials.
“That’s going to be a big part of our operation,” Cecil said.
And after a contentious primary, Cecil said the super-PAC is not short on ideas for how to hit Trump. Voters can expect to see ads hitting Trump on a range of topics, Cecil said, from his comments on women to his remarks on prisoners of war. Cecil added that the effort of Republican groups that tried to stop Trump from gaining the nomination will help inform Priorities USA.
“One of the great things that the anti-Trump forces did for us is give us an opportunity to test a lot of those ads in our own ad testing, so we are thankful not only for the money spent but for them helping us as we get ready for the general,” Cecil said.
While Cecil said his super-PAC will focus on Trump's business record, past comments, and temperament, the group doesn't plan on launching personal attacks. Trump's recent jabs on Bill Clinton's history of marital infidelity wouldn't work, Cecil added.
“History is actually a pretty good guide of what happens when you decide to attack President Clinton’s personal life,” Cecil said. “And I think you can look at the fact that 1998 was the only election in modern history where the incumbent president’s party did not lose senate seats. I think ultimately this is going to backfire, I don’t think it will work.”
In response to Trump’s comments, the Clinton campaign has been sending press releases largely ignoring the attacks and continues to create rapid-response Web videos that use Trump’s own words against him—something that Priorities USA will likely do as well.
“The way Hillary is handling it is exactly the right way,” Cecil said. “The way to beat Donald Trump is not to become him, is not to get in the mud constantly.”