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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Trump Campaign Leans In on Made-for-Social-Media Videos

'These policy videos have been largely responsible for repositioning his candidacy for the better...'

(Headline USA) As Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign heats up, his team is quietly leaning into a strategy: releasing made-for-social media videos reacting to the news and outlining his agenda for a possible second term.

The videos, posted via the pro-freedom video streaming site Rumble, feature the former president speaking directly to camera on topics ranging from Ukraine and “saving” the suburbs to dismantling the “deep state.”

They are often laced with his familiar rhetoric. But his team sees them as a tool to bypass the traditional news media and speak directly to supporters, and as part of a broader effort to steer Trump toward policy instead of his own personal grievances.

“It certainly lays down a marker for President Trump and the campaign on very specific policy prescriptions,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.

“No campaign has done it thus far, and it sort of harkens back to 2016 where President Trump was pushing out policies left and right,” Cheung added. “We want to put a focus on policy and do it differently from a run-of-the mill campaign.”

On Wednesday afternoon alone, Trump posted half a dozen videos on his Truth Social site, including several blasting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as Trump’s most serious potential rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

In one video, Trump thanked supporters for attending his recent Texas rally and asked them to “sign up, donate and volunteer for our campaign.”

In another video, he lashed out at the federal and state prosecutors who have been investigating his conduct. “Election interference through prosecutors is the new ballot stuffing for the Democrat Party,” Trump charged.

The made-for-internet videos are typically released on Trump’s site between a barrage of all-capital-letter missives and flattering articles from conservative sites, though some have been previewed by media outlets.

Those have featured Trump laying out policy plans on topics ranging from crime and immigration to inflation.

He has envisioned flying cars in futuristic cities and has pledged to impose tariffs on most foreign goods, increase penalties on minors who commit crimes and rid the Pentagon of “warmongers.”

There are more to come: Trump filmed 27 in a recent session, underscoring the campaign’s embrace of the format.

The videos do not always garner mainstream media attention. But they often receive several hundred thousand views on platforms such as Rumble and Twitter.

Trump allies say the videos were introduced at a critical time for the campaign, when it was struggling after a lackluster launch and a disappointing midterm election outcome in 2022 in which Trump was blamed for Republicans’ failures to make expected gains.

The first video was released the same day as a baffling digital trading card announcement and after Trump’s controversial dinner with rapper Kanye West and right-wing pundit Nick Fuentes. At the time, even people close to Trump were publicly voicing doubts about whether he was serious about going through with another campaign.

The videos, they argued, helped to change the narrative by demonstrating Trump had plans for a second term and was running not just to try to stave off indictment or because of his lingering anger over the disputed 2020 election.

“These policy videos have been largely responsible for repositioning his candidacy for the better,” said Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and close adviser to Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

“And it happened slowly and it happened under the radar,” Surabian added. “They didn’t get tons of mainstream media attention, but they served as a constant reminder to GOP primary voters” that the former president “has a serious forward-looking policy vision for 2024.”

They also developed from a tacit acknowledgement that Trump was receiving less media attention, both from Fox News, as it increasingly embraced DeSantis, and other cable outlets that had once eagerly aired Trump’s rallies live and allowed him to call in for hours of interviews.

“This is one way to bypass them,” Cheung said. “We all know digital video and social media is one way to do that—going directly to the people.”

The series of campaign videos is part of a larger focus on policy by Trump that has often been overshadowed by his more incendiary off-the-cuff comments.

During an early March speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, for instance, Trump described the 2024 race in apocalyptical terms. “In 2016, I declared, ‘I am your voice.’ Today I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” he said.

But Trump also spent much of that speech outlining his priorities for a second term, from new crackdowns on immigration to creating tent cities for the homeless and those addicted to drugs.

The videos are typically filmed in sessions once or twice a week in a room adjacent to the central “living room” space at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate.

After the first video received a better-than-expected reception, the campaign realized there was an appetite for policy content and that the format gave it better traction than traditional news releases.

Some videos received widespread attention. That was the case with his plan for a “quantum leap in the American standard of living,” with new futuristic cities built on federal land, investments in vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, and “baby bonuses” to launch a new “baby boom.”

“I think they’ve been very successful,” Trump said of the videos during an appearance on the conservative Just the News last month. He credited them for his recent polling bump.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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