Over the last month I’ve looked at political ads from two recently formed advocacy organizations: the anti-Trump Republican group The Lincoln Project (“Mourning in America”) and the progressive group Meidas Touch (“Looters”). Today I’m turning the spotlight on a third organization, Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT), which launched in May 2020 with $10 million for targeted advertising on social media and Fox News. RVAT is a project of Defending Democracy Together (DDT—maybe an intentional evocation of the notorious pesticide, maybe a coincidence)—whose leaders include big-name conservatives such as Bill Kristol, Christine Todd Whitman, Linda Chavez, and Sarah Longwell, who was recently profiled in the New Yorker.
RVAT has been churning out ads featuring people who voted for Trump in 2016 and intend to vote against him in 2020. “Rather than showing President Trump saying deranged things or listing his missteps,” observes Washington Post opinion writer Paul Waldman, “we hear from a Republican voter who has turned against him.” There are dozens of these first-person stories on the RVAT YouTube channel (and you can record your own, if you’re so inclined). But the ad I want to talk about here is a more conventional attack ad—with some distinctive twists.
Still from “The Panic Room President,” uploaded June 5.