the Lincoln project
September 8, 2020

After The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg relayed some politically toxic comments President Trump allegedly made about U.S. service members captured or killed in battle — comments confirmed to Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and CNN, in part or whole — it was just a matter of time before the anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project turned them into an ad. That ad dropped Tuesday evening, and it relied less on Trump's purported comments than on ones he has made in public, plus his own documented actions (or lack of action, notably).

Per custom, the Lincoln Project does not pull its punches in the "Fallen Heroes" ad. "Donald Trump is a draft dodger, a dishonorable coward unfit to be commander in chief," the narrator begins. Trump's comments about two Republican stalwarts, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former President George H.W. Bush, make up a large part of the rest of the 2-minute ad. His alleged comments about U.S. Marines killed in World War I France being "losers" and "suckers" get a mention, of course, and the final line turns the "loser" line back on Trump: "On Nov. 3, it's time to throw this loser coward out of our White House."

The focus on GOP leaders and military heroism suggests the ad is aimed at similarly Trump-skeptical Republicans. But a lot of the Lincoln Project's advertising is also aimed at an audience of one, and if that is the case, "loser coward" is the intended coup de grâce. Peter Weber

September 6, 2020

Michael Steele, the first Black chair of the Republican National Committee and recent high-profile addition for the Lincoln Project, still harbors a lot of resentment for the Republican Party over its role in allowing President Trump to come to power, he revealed in an interview published by The Guardian on Sunday.

Steele is still a Republican, and he joined the anti-Trump, conservative Lincoln Project, out of principle, he said, adding that he considers his fellow Republicans who back the president to be "collaborators." While Steele expressed anger at the GOP's "capitulation" to Trump, he also seemed confused as to how it all unfolded, adding that if he was still chairing the RNC (he left the position in 2011) "it damn sure wouldn't have happened ... and people in this party know that's true."

He said that, going forward, Republicans will "need to explain why they allowed Donald Trump to crap all over their plans to build out the party after they lost the 2012 election," referring to the GOP's determination to appeal to young voters, women, and minorities after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was defeated by former President Barack Obama that year. Read more of Steele's perspective on the Republican Party at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

August 30, 2020

The NBA went on strike for a couple of days last week in response to the police shooting of yet another unarmed Black American, Jacob Blake. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers put the shooting into a broader political context on Tuesday, and The Lincoln Project turned his comments into a political ad released Sunday. But they didn't do much, just adding some background music and images from the Republican National Convention and America in 2020 and letting Rivers do all the talking.

"It's just so sad, just watching the Republican convention, and they're spewing this fear," Rivers said. "Donald Trump and all of them, talking about fear. We're the ones getting killed, we're the ones getting shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It's amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back."

"You don't need to be black to be outraged," Rivers said, and The Lincoln Project highlighted. "You need to be American and outraged." Peter Weber

August 25, 2020

Michael Steele once served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, and now, he's committed to ensuring that the party's presidential nominee doesn't win in November.

Steele announced on Monday that he has joined the Lincoln Project, an organization founded by conservatives that aims to keep President Trump from being re-elected in November. Steele told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that "today is the day where things should matter and you need to take stock of what matters to you — and the kind of leader you want to lead in these moments. And for me, it ain't him."

Steele, the first Black chairman of the RNC, left the position in 2011, and said while he understands his role as "a former party leader," he is "still an American, and these things matter to me more than aligning myself with a party that has clearly decided it would rather be sycophantic than principled." Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, told CNN in a statement that Steele's decision to join the group's "efforts to oust Trump and his enablers is a big deal. It's truly 'country over party' personified." Catherine Garcia

August 18, 2020

The Lincoln Project is using its latest ad to remind Spanish-speaking voters of how President Trump responded when Puerto Rico was devastated by two back-to-back hurricanes in September 2017.

A U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is home to more than 3.5 million American citizens. In Spanish, the ad's narrator says the island is different now, due to the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which left thousands dead and even more without electricity, food, or clean water.

Trump's response to the humanitarian crisis was "lies and disrespect," the narrator says. "During his short trip to the island, all Trump thought to do was throw paper towels and hand out cans of fish to our people. Real help? No way. And when 10 killer earthquakes in six days rocked Puerto Rico and left 8,000 homeless, Trump stopped billions of dollars in emergency relief to our island."

The ad includes several clips of Trump praising his response, saying he did a "fantastic job," as well as telling the people of Puerto Rico that the natural disasters have "thrown our budget a little out of whack." Some think Trump's actions were caused by "a lack of empathy," the narrator intones. "Others say it's racism. We know it's disrespect, and Puerto Rican voters are saying, 'Hasta la vista, Trump, you will not be back.'" Watch the ad below. Catherine Garcia

August 11, 2020

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's pick of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate got a positive reception from Democrats. But what about the Republicans hoping to defeat President Trump this fall? Well, the GOP operatives behind the Lincoln Project approve, they signaled in a new ad released just hours after Biden announced his pick.

"Joe Biden is the president for this moment," the ad's female narrator says. "Standing with him, Kamala Harris, a strong voice for a better America. Daughter of immigrants, a passion for justice, a happy warrior in the battle for the soul of America. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is the America we believe in, where hard work means more than family wealth, where compassion and kindness are strengths, not weaknesses. This is the America of our better angles. ... Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — it's time."

You can disagree with the Lincoln Project's politics — or not even really understand their politics — but you have to admire their speed. Peter Weber

August 3, 2020

The Lincoln Project released a new ad Sunday praising the group of yellow-shirted mothers that sprang up after President Trump sent militarized federal agents into Portland, Oregon, forming a wall between anti-racism protesters and Trump's "faceless paramilitary thugs."

"Moms," the new ad says. "They're working moms, soccer moms, stay-at-home moms; Black, white, Latina, and Asian, straight, gay; moms who will fight for a country where their kids won't have their fundamental freedoms trampled by faceless paramilitary thugs just for speaking out against a country where random arrests and beatings are the rule of the day."

By the time the Lincoln Project released this ad, the federal agents had retreated from Portland's streets, the protests had grown much calmer, and the moms had started to break into factions. The original Wall of Moms group announced on Facebook Saturday that it had "fired" one of its primary organizers, Bev Barnum, for unspecified "violations of our social policies between Wall of Moms and the Black Lives Matter community." The tensions in the group bubbled to the surface as some moms left to form a second group, Moms United for Black Lives.

Demetria Hester, one of the Moms United for Black Lives leaders, suggested to The Oregonian that Barnum wasn't focused enough on Black Lives Matter.

Wall of Moms filed to become a nonprofit public benefit organization on July 24, then started paperwork to become a political action committee and 501c3 federal nonprofit, the Portland Tribune reports. Barnum, listed as Wall of Moms president in at least one filing, apologized on Facebook for "not being transparent" or including all "WOM voices" in "the decision-making process."

"WOM was formed out of necessity," Barnum wrote. "The 501c3 was formed out of necessity. And finally, the WOM PAC was formed out of hope — hope that we as WOM's could impact Oregon not only with our yellow shirts, but also by supporting candidates that support human rights — most especially Black human rights."

The Lincoln Project isn't necessarily wrong about the Portland moms, but as is always true, life is more complicated than it appears in political ads. Peter Weber

July 28, 2020

Amid all the fights over wearing masks, keeping a safe distance apart, and opening businesses and schools, Americans presumably agree on at least one thing: COVID-19 has been terrible — socially, economically, in thousands of little ways, dozens of big ones. That's the starting point for a new Lincoln Project ad released Tuesday, capitalizing on President Trump's dismal approval ratings on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and making that personal.

The ad starts with some "memories COVID took from us," things like birthday parties for children, weddings, first kisses, communal prayer, high school football, being with elderly parents as they die. "COVID has robbed America of so much," the narrator says. "None of this had to happen. We have suffered needlessly because Trump is a fool, a liar, and a failure. Most countries stopped it. Trump refused. It's Trump's virus now."

The ad ends with what the anti-Trump Republicans behind the PAC see as the stakes in November: "It truly is a choice: America or Trump." Peter Weber

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