Anti-Trump ad from the Republican Lincoln Project

I like this ad not because it compares Trump with George Wallace (Trump is more subtle in his bigotry), but because it reminds us what real leaders sound like—and we all know that they sound nothing like Trump.

The Lincoln Project is a PAC formed by Republicans and former Republicans whose goal is to ensure that Trump doesn’t get reelected. Their webpage says this:

We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.

Amen to that last sentence. And now the ad:


  1. Paul Matthews
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    No doubt naive question from a Canadian (but please humour me): could the Republicans still change their presidential candidate if they sense they’re heading for a catastrophic landslide defeat in the coming election?

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      They might technically be able to nominate a candidate other than Trump at their convention. Practically speaking, he would probably have to die, withdraw, or suffer some incapacity before that would happen. He had few challengers in state-by-state primary elections and some states didn’t even bother to have a primary. Even if some other candidate took Trump’s place, the party failure signaled by your suggested scenario would almost certainly guarantee a loss in the general election. I think Trump is their only shot at this point.

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes. But there has to be a candidate running in the Republican party. There is Bill Weld, but I don’t know if he is still running at this time, and I am sure he has 0 traction with voters in any case. The party has no interest in any candidate except for Trump.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Bill Weld (along with former Maine senator William Cohen) are the relict members of a noble, but now extinct, species once known as the centrist Eastern Establishment wing of the Republican Party.

        Dunno is there’s any plan to try to revivify the species by breeding those two in captivity. 🙂

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Did anyone in Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party try to get rid of their PM, Kim Campbell, before she lost 154 of their 156 seats in the 1993 election?

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        My recollection is that this was a Canadian realization of the very scenario I’m wondering about for the US Republicans in 2020. The Conservatives sensed they were heading for disaster under PM Brian Mulroney so he stepped aside and was replaced by Kim Campbell. Perhaps not at the very last minute but pretty late. It made no difference.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Yes it is exactly that.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Yeah Kim Campbell was pretty much elected as party leader when the PCs knew the party was going to lose the federal election with Mulroney’s declining popularity. Basically, they replaced the party leader right before the election so it is exactly this sort of thing that can be done. We vote for the party not the leader in Canada and the party can replace its leader by a vote of card carrying party members. I always saw her as someone they threw to the wolves knowing she would be leader for a very short time.

        • Paul Matthews
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          She must have known it was going to happen, though. Probably not to that extent. I guess that was when the Reform Party arrived and split the right-wing vote. Ah, those were the days. Then the two right-wing parties “united” (if a hostile takeover is a union), got elected, and we were subjected to all those horrible years under Harper. I think of those years when I start getting too critical of Trudeau.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            Yeah she probably knew it but thought being the first female Canadian PM and just being a PM was good for her CV. She lives in California in some fancy abode. Good for her. I would have gotten the hell out of Canada after that shit storm too.

            • Paul Matthews
              Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

              Job interview: “I see that you were Prime Minister of your country. I also see that, under your leadership, your party lost all but two of its seats, neither of which was yours”.

              Yeah, still probably good to have on your CV.

  2. Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that it sounds like the ad is running in Oklahoma. Maybe they will keep it going as the Orange Moron holds rally after rally, building a solid coalition of Covid-19 patients in the red states.

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      The infection has begun! Six of Trump’s campaign staffers have already tested positive for COVID-19.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        They no doubt regret that they have but one life to risk for Dear Leader.

  3. Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    The Lincoln Project do good work. They have something like a dozen of these 1-minute anti-Trump videos on their YouTube channel:
    Rick Wilson and George Conway (Kellyanne Conway’s husband) are part of this group.

    • Roger
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Why do they have to “go there” with the nasty political propaganda and mud slinging? Don’t they think people have brains? Maybe they have a point. Maybe people are idiots. I guess just take a look at any history book. Yep, people = idiots.

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        They are Republicans who are upset with what Trump has done to their party and their country. Their videos obviously have a message. Do you have any specific complaints with what they say? Or are you just letting us know you are a Trump fan?

        • Roger
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          Who is going to watch those and not recognize the deliberately one-sided scripted voice-acted propaganda of the type anyone immediately wonders how much is baloney and how much is real? More harm than good.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            The Lincoln Project is quite aware that its ads are nasty; they are calculated to be nasty in the style of Reagan’s “Morning in America” and other ads noted elsewhere in this post. Rick Wilson, former Republican sewer rat strategist, now of the Lincoln Project, is a past master at such things. He’s made vicious ads for Republicans; now he’s a “Never Trumper” turning his mud-slinging talents on Trump, as detailed in this Salon article titled “F**king hating” Trump is the key to winning in 2020″

            This from the Guardian: “Steve Bannon, the Trump whisperer, has noted that if the project achieves even slight success in key electoral college states, it could prove fatal. Wilson, the proudly ruthless ad man, cheerfully admits turning the lethal amorality of his craft to a distinctly moral end.”

            If you are a Trump supporter, it’s rich that you expect decorum and politesse in politics from Trump’s opponents, when Trump spews hatred every time he opens his mouth or tweets.

            • Posted June 21, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

              “it’s rich that you expect decorum and politesse in politics from Trump’s opponents” – and why not, with Democrats’ track record? They make Charlie Brown’s football practice with Lucy look downright savvy and worldy-wise.

          • Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            That would describe pretty much any campaign commercial. What is interesting here is it is from a Republican organization, trying to get some Republicans to realize that this elected leader was a terrible mistake. Coming from Democrats, of course they could dismiss it as mere propaganda. Coming from within their ranks: Not so easy to dismiss.

      • Roger
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Paging George Orwell, the Lincoln Project needs your help cleaning up their nasty stinky political ads that anyone can recognize for what it is. George Orwell to the courtesy phone.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        I actually thought this was quite tasteful, simply showing the facts. It wasn’t even ad hom like most ads I see.

        • Roger
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          This one maybe, but look at the rest though.

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        The only way your question makes sense is if you believe that negative ads do not work. Clearly they do. Campaigns are not in the habit of wasting money if they can help it. I’ll wait while you tally up the positive political ads and the negative ones. Let me know which we see more of.

        For a negative ad, the Lincoln Project ads are really pretty laid back.

    • Historian
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      I do not know if Roger is so naïve that he doesn’t understand how politics work or is simply a Trump supporter who is trying to throw shade on other Republicans (or should we say former Republicans) for using the successful Republican playbook for decades. Unlike Democrats, who are much too meek and civil in their advertising and campaigning, these Never Trump Republicans know how to play hardball. One of the members of the Lincoln Project is Rick Wilson, Republican operative for decades. People like him have been responsible to a large degree for Republican success for decades. Now, he is on the other side, at least for now. I’m glad to have him.

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        My guess is that Roger is a Trump supporter. I may be wrong, but that’s my speculation. After all, remember the “daisy” ad by LBJ supporters against Goldwater? Now THAT was hardball, but it was a magnificent and effective ad.

        In fact, I don’t see that the Lincoln Project ads are palpably nastier than most political ads that attack an opponent.

        • Historian
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          I do remember the commercial. It still packs a wallop more than half a century later.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            IIRC, the commercial ran but once (although it got a lot of publicity in the news after doing so).

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        I’ve found that comments like Roger’s form a pattern. There’s a sort of generic outrage that is really a “both sides” argument. Noth sides are “nasty”. The key is that there’s no specific complaint anywhere to be found. Sure, the videos are biased against Trump but what political message isn’t for one side at the expense of the other? People like Roger don’t really want to materially dispute the details of the video’s message because they’ll lose those arguments.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        I’m with you Historian. For Roger to have this reaction to the Lincoln Project ads, he must be a Trump supporter and/or ignorant of US political history.

    • Roger
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant deductions you guys.

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        You are uncivil and don’t belong on this site. Somewhere along the line you either missed the tone of discussion here or are simply unable to control your rancor.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted June 21, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Some of them are really great: ‘#RichMitch’, or the dystopian ‘Virus in the World’. Most of them are pretty good.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I like this ad not because it compares Trump with George Wallace (Trump is more subtle in his bigotry) …

    Trump is certainly more subtle than the George Wallace of 1963 who called for “segregation forever” and who stood in the University of Alabama doorway in an effort to prevent black students from matriculating. But by his runs for president in 1968 and 1972, Wallace himself had dropped the overtly racist rhetoric in favor of the dog-whistle — a dog-whistle very much resembling that of Donald Trump today, with its calls for “law and order,” with its baiting and insults of protesters, with its appeals to god-fearing Christians.

    As Republican strategist Lee Atwater, a product of rough-and-tumble South Carolina politics, and the architect of Poppy Bush’s 1992 “Willie Horton” ad, explained in a Reagan-era interview that he specified not be published until after his death:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. … “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Ah, those were different times. Not that different though. Since George Wallace days, people have just learned they have to keep their racism between their close group of friends, with the occasional dog whistle to let others know they were still there. The racist attitudes themselves haven’t changed as much as what’s allowed to be said in polite society.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Let me add that the aforementioned Mr. Atwater was partners in a Washington, DC, political consulting firm with Trump’s 2016 campaign cronies (and convicted felons) Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

      Here’s a pic of the three reprobates from those halcyon days:

      • Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Those are some interesting connections!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Poppy Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad was in 1988, against Michael Dukakis, not 1992. Sorry for the mix-up.

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    In the state of Washington, the recent Republican Primary ballot included only a single name for the presidential nomination. Perhaps the GOP was trying to burnish its Progressive image with this method, adopted from the Progressive and Peace-loving USSR.

  6. jezgrove
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    As a Brit, I have no idea how influential the Lincoln Project is, but I wish it luck. I see six members of the team organizing Trump’s Tulsa rally today have tested positive for coronavirus. What could possibly go wrong?

  7. rickflick
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m puzzled why the Democrats can’t muster such fine advertising? At least I haven’t seen anything worthwhile. Has anyone seen Biden’s few ads about signing up with him? Not very good and not very clever. Where is the creativity in the Democratic party? Why aren’t they giving tRump hell already?

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      One could wish for that. But he has not received the official nomination yet. Then its weeks of much heavier campaigning.
      I hope they have cleverer ads in the line up, but I don’t look forward to seeing them over and over and over.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it seems campaigns are pretty poor in marketing. If you’ve seen an ad once, or twice, it it’s a good one, or three times if it’s a great one, you don’t want to see it again.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

          One can only hope that the Democrats will rise to the occasion; but IMO they’re flaccid this go-round. They wouldn’t and in fact couldn’t come up with even pale imitations of ads like those put out by the Lincoln Project. It’s just not in their political DNA to play that way. And why should they even try now that the Lincoln Project is doing their job for them and a ball-breaking job it is. Rick Wilson says that Trump is rattled by the ads, and that’s important to note. I’m sure the Lincoln Project will turn the Barr-Berman business into a take-down ad in short order. I can hardly wait. (Aside: there’s no better meaningful but purely felicitous concatenation of names than Epsteind-Barr virus, as in Jeffery Epstein and William Barr.)

          • rickflick
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

            The way they could do it is throw a few million dollars at an experienced ad producer. There must be a hundred creative entities that could put up some really effective material. And heaven knows, tRump has provided a lot of material to work with.

            • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

              Sure but Hollywood’s worst kept secret is that no amount of money and talent can predict success. Much as they would love to find a formula that is reliably successful, the best they’ve been able to come up with is sequels of successful films. That doesn’t transfer well to political ads, though the Lincoln Project did echo Reagan’s “Morning in America” with their “Mourning in America” ad.

    • Robert Van Orden
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      I agree to some extent that these Project Lincoln ads have been more effective.

      However, I do think there is some advantage here of allowing Biden to take the high road and while Project Lincoln does the dirty work of attack ads.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 20, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        That’s likely true, but Biden can take a higher road and still produce some strong messaging. Why hasn’t he done so? Or, maybe he has and it’s just not getting much coverage.

      • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        I think a big factor is Biden wanting to save his money until we get closer to Election Day. As I understand it, Biden’s resources are now on an upswing but still are below those of Trump.

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, you’d think that if Hollywood was all in on Democrats, they could help them produce some decent films.

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    It is now past 7 central time and also Tulsa time. Last report the crowd the orange idiot expected just did not show up. They will try to say it was opposition demonstrators that caused it but that is not so. He will likely not fill the disease factory for his even. I kind of think Tulsa is a little embarrassed about this thing, if that is possible in Oklahoma.

    I do not think Biden will have to do anything very spectacular and he probably wouldn’t anyway. Trump as usual will run this campaign into the ground all by himself.

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      It is probably due in large part to C-19 fears.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Maybe those idiots are smarter than we think! 😜

  9. Posted June 20, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    There’s another Republican organization making some good anti-Trump videos, Republican Voters Against Trump:

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Another group (Progressive), Meidas Touch makes some wicked anti-Trump videos

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted June 21, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Meidastouch has some pretty hardhitting videos.
        I found ‘Republican Voters against Trump’ much weaker, but I’ll revisit.

      • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Yes, those are good ones too. While I also wish Dems and the Biden Campaign would come up with such quality ads, I think videos coming from outside those two organizations have more clout, especially those from Republicans. It’s important for the anti-Trump forces to draw attention to his falling poll numbers in order to get more Republicans to deny their Trumpism and come out against him while it still has a chance to influence voters.

        Trump’s low crowd size in Tulsa last night is really significant. He obviously lied about there being millions wanting to get in. Even if he blames COVID fears drummed up by the MSM, it’s still a loss since it indicates that his supposed supporters are fearful of the virus and don’t believe Trump’s take on it.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      I was not impressed with their efforts. But, who knows, it might strike a chord with some who need that message.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:04 am | Permalink

        The mud wrestlers are having a field day. Dems ought to let them get down and dirty since they know how best to do that. The anti-Trump ads are like a flood that takes everything down in its path. The Dems need to take the high road and counter that destructiveness by producing effective pro-Biden ads — Biden sorely needs positive exposure and nobody but the Dems can do that.

        • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          I disagree. It has been noted that it is pretty hard for Biden to sell himself based on what he’s done. It’s not that he’s done so many bad things or not done good things. It’s just that most of them seem far in the past and somewhat irrelevant to what’s going on now. On the other hand, Trump is very vulnerable on his record and his character. Everyone on both sides knows this election is a referendum on Trump. It is pretty much the only battleground.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            Upon reflection true.

  10. Robert Van Orden
    Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I follow ‘Never Trumpers’ on Twitter but I unfollowed Rick Wilson. He often belittles people is a way that I find distasteful.

    Better follows are David Frum, Bill Kristol and my favorite Tom Nichols. Nichols like’s to stir the shit pot too, but he mocks cultural things like Led Zeppelin or Indian food, which I find funny for some reason.

    Wilson is a talented ad man and the Lincoln Project is backed by some big donors. So they are in it for the long haul.

    • Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      They haven’t always run big budget ads. One of their ads ran on one network (Fox) one time (in the morning during Fox and Friends) specifically so our president would see it and blow a gasket. I believe it cost them $5,000. Then it got retweeted for nothing to a bazillion views. That’s some sharp marketing.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      I like seeing what Anthony Scaramucci says sometimes just because his plain language is hilarious and he is very sharp. I remember someone criticized him for taking down a tweet which he had fixed and he said ‘it had a typo, dummy’. It’s just pretty funny.

      • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Yes, Scaramucci sound good now but we must remember he’s a guy that once liked Trump and retold his lies.

    • Posted June 21, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      A lot of Rick Wilson’s bombast is in response to even nastier Twitter replies he gets. Unlike most, he doesn’t ignore them but tries to show them he’s better at it than they are, which he mostly definitely is. I kinda like his replies but I sympathize with those who don’t.

  11. rickflick
    Posted June 22, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    General interest: The Al Frankin podcast has an interesting interview with David Litt, speech writer for Obama. Litt has a book out walking through the fundamentals of our democratic system of government, why the breakdown in the system and some ideas on how to ameliorate the damage.

  12. Posted August 10, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Follow the money, I always say. According to CNN, not a fan of President Trump, the largest financial backers of the Lincoln Project are, um, Democrats.

    “Its single largest donor in the April-to-June fundraising quarter: Connecticut-based hedge fund manager Stephen Mandel, who donated $1 million to the group. Mandel is a Democratic donor who has supported Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s presidential bid, Federal Election Commission filings show.”

    “Mandel did not immediately respond to an interview request.”

    “Another billionaire Democrat, Hollywood film magnate David Geffen, is among the donors who contributed $100,000. Josh Bekenstein, co-chairman of private-investment firm Bain Capital, also donated $100,000.”

    The fact is that the Lincoln Project — which has also backed Democratic candidates — is essentially a front organization for wealthy Democrats, Never Trumpers (like William Kristol), and unprincipled ex-Republicans who have an axe to grind.

    How ’bout a little transparency … hmm?

    • Posted August 10, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      You need transparency to figure out that Democrats don’t like Trump and are willing to spend money to get rid of him? The fact remains that the founders of the Lincoln Project are Republicans who don’t like what Trump is doing to their party and their country. They take donations and do good work.

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