(CN) — A Republican-backed political group that has called President Trump a “danger to the Constitution” is launching a $1 million ad campaign in Texas, hoping to cash in on recent polls showing a relatively tight race between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the Lone Star State.
The Lincoln Project, a super PAC made up of current and former Republicans, said it will launch an initial week-long run of TV and digital ads focused primarily on what a spokesperson described as the president’s “malice and inhumanity” in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The ad campaign, dubbed Operation Sam Houston, was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.
The Lincoln Project said it plans to target Republican women in the state’s rural and suburban areas and Hispanic voters. The ads in the suburbs will focus on issues related to racism and extremism, the spokesperson said.
“We see an opportunity in Texas and we are going to take advantage of it,” Lincoln Project co-founder Mike Madrid said in a statement.
The $1 million Texas buy is the latest in a series of ad campaigns that have served up stinging attacks against the president for his record on everything from veterans’ issues to protests for racial justice and the coronavirus pandemic. The group has reportedly raised more than $19 million for its efforts this year.
The Republican Party of Texas immediately slammed the move as the workings of a “pseudo-Republican group.”
In a statement, Texas GOP Chairman Allen West called the ad campaign “highly disturbing and quite disgusting” and asked why “so-called Republican strategists” would support a “progressive socialist agenda.”
“There’s only one answer, they are dishonorable, characterless, and devoid of integrity only seeking their own personal interest, not that of America, certainly not that of Texas,” West said.
A RealClearPolitics polling average at the end of September showed President Trump with a 3.2 percentage point lead over Biden in Texas. It marks a shift in Trump’s favor since the averages showed the two neck-and-neck in early August, but the lead still falls within the margin of error of many polls.
The Lincoln Project has had its eyes on the Lone Star State for a while now. The group announced in July that it had put together a Texas-based team of political operatives with ties to Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, among others.
“We’ve actually spent almost a million dollars in Texas already,” Madrid said in an interview. “Mainly what we’ve been doing is testing how soft the Republican base is.”
Madrid said his group has concluded that the state’s college-educated white Republicans and those over the age of 65 are “remarkably soft” in their commitment to the party. He described Texas as key to the group’s stated mission to not only defeat Trump, but also “Trumpism.”
“Imagine for a moment if Texas turned blue,” Madrid said. “That means the 2024 presidential candidate, the main platform they’re going to have to have is, ‘how are we going to win Texas back?’”