WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign launched a massive, multi-million dollar ad blitz against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday (May 7), its biggest onslaught against Mr Biden since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States.
With Mr Biden's campaign beginning its own offensive against Mr Trump - insisting November's election must be a referendum on the Republican president's handling of the coronavirus crisis - the Trump team has decided to turn its sights on Mr Biden's own record.
The president's campaign will spend at least US$10 million (S$14.13 million) on nationwide ads that will air on TV networks, broadcast outlets and online, according to an aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Trump campaign has decided that blaming China for the pandemic is one message that resonates with many voters, and it is using Mr Biden's own record on China as a way to attack him. The coronavirus outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
In one ad, the Trump campaign accuses former vice-president Biden of opposing travel restrictions on foreign nationals coming from China that Mr Trump announced in January, saying that Mr Biden will not "stand up" to the country.
The Biden campaign denounced the message. Mr Andrew Bates, a Mr Biden spokesman, pointed out that Mr Trump had earlier praised China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak in January and February and accused him of having "horrifically mismanaged the worst public health crisis in over 100 years."
Mr Biden's campaign spent millions on ads during the Democratic Party primary and is expected to spend more in the coming months, along with aligned political groups.
Some US$1.7 billion is expected to be spent on ads in the 2020 Trump-Biden race, according to Advertising Analytics and Cross Screen Media, two advertising companies.
Since the pandemic struck the United States, over 70,000 Americans have died and over 30 million have filed for unemployment, the biggest and most rapid loss of jobs in US history.
Recent polls have shown a tight race between the two, despite the health and economic wreckage wrought by the pandemic.
In the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday, 45 per cent of Americans said Mr Trump would be better at creating jobs, compared with 32 per cent who thought Mr Biden would be better at it.
Overall, Mr Biden's recent lead over Mr Trump had essentially vanished, according to the poll.
Before the first ads began airing, Mr Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale sent a tweet likening their re-election campaign to the "Death Star", a "Star Wars" reference to a space station that could destroy a planet.
The Biden campaign pointed out that the Death Star gets blown up at the end of the 1977 film, the original movie in the "Star Wars" franchise.