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Donald Trump's Super Bowl ad shows how he can win again

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President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg have each spent millions of dollars on TV ads for the 2020 Super Bowl. Chris Cillizza explains what this unprecedented ad buy means in the 2020 race.

Posted: Jan 30, 2020 5:50 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2020 5:50 PM

Here's how President Donald Trump wins again this November: Voters decide they care more about the strength of the economy than they do about, well, anything else, up to and including the deeply unpresidential way in which he has conducted himself in office.

To that end, the Trump campaign on Thursday released the TV ad it will run during Sunday's Super Bowl -- a pitch-perfect, 30-second distillation of this central idea: He may be jerk, but he's a jerk whose made my financial life better.

Here's the ad:

Notice how the Trump campaign -- right off the bat -- tries to mitigate Trump's demeanor and tone in office. "Americans demanded change," says the ad's narrator. "And change is what we got."

See, Trump is change! He's shaking up the old, fusty types in Washington. So, yeah, of course they don't like him!

That is obviously spin. And overlooks the fact that Trump has abandoned the idea of the presidency as a position of moral leadership and sought to erode the very idea of truth.

But having dispensed (they hope) with doubts voters have about how Trump handles himself and his office, the campaign moves in for the close.

"Under President Trump, America is stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever before," says the ad's narrator -- followed by a series of TV anchors touting the record low unemployment numbers in the country.

The ad closes with Trump himself promising that "the best is yet to come."

That's it. That's the message. If Trump wins, that 30 seconds is how he does it. He:

1) persuades voters that his unpresidential behavior is chalked up to "change"

2) reminds voters of the economic successes that have happened under his watch

3) convinces voters that changing the US president amid this economic growth is a risk they don't want to take.

Now, there can be no reasonable expectation that Trump will stick to this message during his campaign speeches and interviews. He won't. He might mention it, sure. But Trump has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the discipline or interest in staying with one message.

His TV ad campaign is something else entirely, however. His ad makers can stick to a single message. And if Trump's Super Bowl ad is a precursor of the message they plan to push, that's a very smart strategic approach.

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