The renegade Republican group The Lincoln Project raised nearly $40 million in the third quarter for its hard-hitting campaign to oust President Trump and the Republican Senate majority.
The Lincoln Project was founded by “Never Trump” Republicans with decades of experience as GOP consultants. The super PAC is spending millions of dollars to air advertising and videos that attack the president and Senate Republicans up for reelection, sometimes in sharply personal terms.
The group raised $39.4 million in July, August, and September and entered October with $13.2 million in the bank.
In one recent video, The Lincoln Project claimed, “Donald Trump has recovered from COVID-19, but more than 200,000 Americans will never recover from Donald Trump.” The spot refers to the more than 200,000 people in the United States who got the coronavirus. In another video, released Wednesday, The Lincoln Project attacks Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, who is in a toss-up race for reelection in Iowa and is running against Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.
“When times are this tough for Iowa families and farmers, you’d think Joni Ernst would stand up, speak up, and fight for us,” the ad’s voice-over says. “On trade, she sticks with the Trump plan that’s driving too many Iowa farms to bankruptcy.”
Some critics of The Lincoln Project accuse the group of mimicking Trump’s caustic behavior. Others say attempting to bring down the GOP Senate majority endangers the kind of conservative Republicans who Never Trump Republicans claim to prefer over the president’s nationalist populism.
The group is unapologetic. In a major feature about its activities on CBS News’s 60 Minutes, the Republican strategists behind The Lincoln Project said negative advertising is effective and claimed the group is uniquely positioned to craft spots that appeal to GOP voters turned off by Trump and looking for a reason to justify voting for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“We all had a conviction that there are millions of Republicans who look at this debacle and reject it,” said Steve Schmidt, co-founder of The Lincoln Project and campaign manager for the late Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “What we thought we could do it talk to those voters in the language and the iconography that they understand.”