The initiative, called Republican Voters Against Trump, has produced multiple ads featuring disaffected GOP voters who say they are not voting for Trump. Many of these testimonials are recorded on smartphones and include voters who have voted for Republican candidates, some of whom voted for Trump in 2016.
“I voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but I won’t vote for him again,” says Jay, a Pennsylvania voter who recorded one of nearly 100 videos featured on the project’s website. Some of the testimonials will be featured in the ads.
“People need to see other people like themselves,” said Sarah Longwell, a longtime conservative and Republican consultant who is the executive director of Defending Democracy Together, the nonprofit behind the effort. The New York Times first reported on the new ad campaign.
Longwell told CNN the ads will initially target specific voters in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Arizona, primarily through digital ads. Some television ads have also been produced and will air in those states.
Other involved in the project are Bill Kristol, the former Weekly Standard editor and a prominent Never Trump commentator; and Tim Miller, a one-time adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. Their group, Defending Democracy Together, has also backed an initiative called Republicans for the Rule of Law, which has purchased TV and digital ads to push congressional Republicans to seek more information on the Ukraine investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment last year.
That campaign helped the group find like-minded Republicans, conservatives and moderates who oppose Trump but have not been traditional Democratic voters. Longwell said the new project’s goal is to highlight these people for other voters who may be on the fence about supporting Trump in 2020.
“The whole point of the project is for people to credibly make their case to other people,” Longwell said. “Trust in the media is down, trust in politicians is down. The people who they trust are people like them.”