President Donald Trump's campaign organization removed a television ad from its YouTube account after questions that it may have violated military policy.The ad, which Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. announced Monday it would spend $1.5 million airing nationwide, originally included video of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster shaking Trump's hand at Mar-a-Lago, in uniform, after he accepted his new position in February.
Six months removed from the last U.S. presidential campaign, it seems silly, and perhaps a bit painful, to realize that the first campaign ad of the 2020 presidential election -- still 42 months away -- hit airwaves yesterday.Almost immediately after Donald Trump unexpectedly prevailed in the 2016 race, the Republican and his team took steps to prepare for his re-election effort. With that in mind, the Trump 2020 campaign team has already set up an office, staff, campaign rallies, and an ongoing fundraising operation.And it has advertising, which Trump's campaign has already managed to screw up.
Military rules prohibit these kinds of appearances in campaign ads, so Team Trump yanked the commercial and replaced the footage with new content.We're accustomed to thinking about Trump screwing up big things, but we're occasionally reminded that he's quite capable of getting little things wrong, too.Stepping back, however, there are a few angles to this ad launch that are worth keeping in mind.First, keep an eye on the legal limits. As Politico noted, the Trump campaign's ad is eerily similar to an ad created by a pro-Trump non-profit group in March by the same agency, Jamestown Associates. "The arrangement is legal, so long as the nonprofit, known as America First Policies, does not directly advocate Trump's election," Politico noted. "But watchdogs fear the blurring represents another tear in the fabric of the country's fraying campaign finance law."Second, as a New York Times fact-check noted, the ad isn't exactly honest.Third, having a campaign run an ad touting a president's first 100 days in office, after the president denounced the 100-day standard as "ridiculous," starts to make a political operation look a little desperate.And finally, for the love of all that is good in the world, do we really need a 2020 campaign operation to hit the airwaves with a $1.5 million ad buy more than three years ahead of the next presidential election?