Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Monday it will run television ads in Texas, marking just the second time since 1976 that a Democratic presidential nominee has bought TV airtime in the solidly Republican Lone Star State, said Garry Mauro, chairman of Texas for Hillary.
(Bill Clinton made a small ad buy in Texas in his 1996 reelection campaign, Mauro said.)
“It’s become clear, as the non-elected opinion leaders in our state have come to realize, that Donald Trump doesn’t represent Texas values. You’re seeing a shift away from Trump and a shift toward Hillary Clinton,” Mauro said.
The ad touts Clinton’s endorsement by The Dallas Morning News, which hadn’t supported a Democrat for president since 1940. The decision to spend campaign money in Texas comes a week after a poll showed the race for Texas’ 38 electoral college votes within the margin of error. The ad will air for one week in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, the Texas Tribune reported.
Although Democrats are hoping Trump’s polarizing candidacy will make the state competitive, most observers still expect Texas to be in Trump’s column on Election Day. The last Democratic candidate for president to carry Texas was Jimmy Carter, who narrowly defeated Gerald Ford in 1976.
“We’re very confident in our Texas Victory 2016 efforts and believe that we will succeed in electing Republicans up-and-down the ballot,” Republican Party of Texas spokesman Michael Joyce said.
In light of Trump’s recent drop in state and national polls — following the disclosure of a 2005 recording in which he brags about sexually assaulting women — Clinton campaign officials are seeking to expand the battleground map.
First lady Michelle Obama, one of Clinton’s most effective surrogates, is making Clinton’s case in Phoenix on Thursday, while the campaign puts an additional $2 million in television ads, direct mail and digital spots to help Arizona Democrats running in competitive races for the House and Senate. Clinton’s team is also putting an additional $1 million into efforts in Missouri and Indiana, and expanding already existing operations by $6 million in seven battleground states, according to campaign manager Robby Mook.
The Clinton campaign, however, does not appear to be making as significant of an investment in Texas. Mauro said he didn’t think the ad alone was enough to have a major impact on voting in the Lone Star State.
“We’re not a battleground state, but I think that the polls show that, as Texans learn more about Trump’s values, Hillary does better and better,” Mauro said. “Demographically, Texas is a rich target for Hillary Clinton. Historically we’re a red state, but because Trump is so limited demographically just to Anglo males, we have a real opportunity to change the dynamics in Texas significantly and I think this buy shows that.”
Trump campaign officials did not not respond to questions about whether the Republican plans to buy TV ads in Texas.
Additional material from the Associated Press