NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group pushing for President Donald Trump’s impeachment will launch a six-figure digital ad campaign on Tuesday, targeting vulnerable Republicans in the House of Representatives at a time polls show a growing percentage of Americans favour impeachment.
Need to Impeach, a group funded mainly by billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, has already spent millions of dollars convincing Democrats to impeach Trump.
The organisation is turning its attention to Republicans facing tough re-election battles next year. The group announced last week it was launching a $3.1 million ad campaign targeting incumbent Republican senators, including Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst of Iowa.
Leaders of the group told Reuters they will extend that campaign, spending an initial $500,000 on digital media ads focussed on 10 Republicans in the most competitive House districts, including Representatives Pete King of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania.
“We are going to run ads questioning their patriotism. What we have learned is that when a few people come out for impeachment, then a lot of people follow,” said Kevin Mack, the organisation’s lead strategist.
The ads, seen by Reuters, ask Republicans to put “Country over Party.”
Other House Republican targets are John Katko and Lee Zeldin of New York; Rodney Davis of Illinois; Don Bacon of Nebraska; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; and Michael McCaul and Chip Roy of Texas.
“Based on everything I have seen and heard, I am strongly opposed to impeachment - as I was opposed to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. The digital ads will have no effect on my vote or influence my position,” King said in an emailed statement.
Katie Vincentz, a spokesperson for Zeldin, said, “Radical Democrats have an unlimited supply of dark money for their frequent lies and nasty attacks, but once again that will be money poorly spent by the left on another well-deserved loss next year.”
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower alleged that Trump used U.S. military aid to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Republicans targeted by the ads have either supported the inquiry but not impeachment, or criticized Democrats for getting ahead of the facts.
Need to Impeach will also spend money thanking a group of eight Democratic House members in competitive districts for supporting impeachment.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His re-election campaign has stepped up its digital advertising, spending $1.4 million on thousands of digital ads designed to reach voters in every state as the inquiry unfolded, according to data analysed by Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sept. 24 found 37% of Americans thought Trump should be impeached and 45% said he should not. A week later, the percentage favoring impeachment rose to 45% in the poll, with opponents of impeachment down to 41%.
Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Gregorio