Politics & Policy

Club for Growth Goes After Trump with $1 Million Ad Buy

Trump speaks at a rally in Dallas, Texas, September 14, 2015. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

The Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax organization, is launching a $1 million television campaign against Republican front-runner Donald Trump. The ads, to air in battleground state Iowa starting Thursday, will hammer Trump on his record supporting national health care, the Wall Street bailout, “eminent-domain abuse,” and “protectionist” trade policies. 

The television ads will close with Club for Growth president David McIntosh’s slogan that Trump is “the worst kind of politician.”

“Donald Trump has the worst record in the entire field on economic policies,” said McIntosh. “He’ll say anything to get elected, and he’ll do just the opposite when he’s in office.”

The ad campaign, unveiled today at the National Press Club in Washington, marks the first large-scale media attack effort of the Republican primary. The launch is propelled by the Club’s belief that Trump could potentially seal the Republican nomination “if we don’t take him seriously.” Club for Growth Action, the political arm of the group, is funding it.

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Mcintosh said that the Iowa campaign is the beginning of a sustained effort “to make Americans understand that Trump is not an economic conservative.”

“He can’t hide from his record,” McIntosh said. “The American people are wiser than that. They’ll get it.” 

McIntosh said that the Club for Growth is the first group willing to call out Trump for his “Obama-like” economic policies. He said he imagines other conservative organizations will quickly follow suit. 

#share#The announcement comes just one month after McIntosh asked Club for Growth members to dole out funds for “a series of ads in key states aimed at educating Republican primary voters about Donald Trump’s real record.”

The ad campaign is the latest in a string of public clashes between the organization and Trump. McIntosh has called Trump “a liability to the future of the nation,” saying he falls just short of Bernie Sanders as “the most liberal candidate” in the field.

Trump says that the Club for Growth is attacking him because he refused their request for a $1 million donation in June. 

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“The phony Club For Growth, which asked me in writing for $1,000,000 (I said no), is now wanting to do negative ads on me. Total hypocrites!” Trump wrote on Twitter on September 6.

He later posted a photo of a letter McIntosh sent to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager. “During our meeting, Mr. Trump expressed an interest in supporting the Club for Growth,” McIntosh wrote in the letter. “Enclosed is a letter for Mr. Trump and a request for a $1,000,000 contribution.”

#related#The Club for Growth maintains that Trump’s team requested the meeting hoping to win the group’s support, not the other way around. The letter itself does not make clear who initiated the talk.

The group has a hawkish record of attacking candidates who don’t meet its litmus test for conservatism. Earlier this year, it launched an ad attacking Mike Huckabee for raising taxes during his tenure as governor of Arkansas.

The Club for Growth Action’s largest donor of this year, Richard Uihlein, the CEO of a Wisconsin shipping company — who gave the group $500,000 — has donated $2.5 million to a super PAC supporting Scott Walker.

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