The National Rifle Association’s political arm is launching its first ad campaign of the 2016 presidential race, with a survivor of the terror attack in Benghazi urging viewers to vote for Donald Trump.
The ad, which the NRA Political Victory Fund is backing with more than $2 million, is one of the larger expenditures by an outside group on behalf of the presumptive Republican nominee.
The 30-second spot, entitled “Stop Clinton, Vote Trump,” features Mark Geist, a Marine Corps veteran and security contractor who fought the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that claimed four American lives, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win; Well, I know some people who won’t be voting this year either,” Geist says as he walks through a cemetery in the ad. “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.”
The ad will air on national cable and on broadcast channels in the battleground states of Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The campaign comes at a time when Clinton has been vastly outspending Trump and pummeling him on air for weeks. The Wesleyan Media Project estimated a few weeks ago that her camp had run 105,000 ads, compared with 33,000 run by Trump.
At the same time, his standing in national polls has slipped from a virtual tie with Clinton in late May to trailing her by 7 points, on average, according to the RealClearPolitics.
The NRA ad also hits as House Republicans on Tuesday released the results of their two-year investigation of the attack in Libya.
Clinton said Tuesday that “no one has thought more about or lost more sleep over the lives that we lost, the four Americans, which was devastating." She noted that she called for an independent investigation, that improvements have been made to ensure a similar attack doesn’t happen, and said “I think it's pretty clear it's time to move on."
But in the heat of a presidential election, that seems doubtful. And a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Trump leading Clinton in a few issue areas, including terrorism and homeland security, which respondents said that he would handle better by a margin of 44%-39%.
Geist, who co-authored 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi, endorsed Trump in February, saying he believes “under President Trump, many conflicts will be avoided because our enemies will fear the United States and our military."
The NRA and its affiliated groups spent $13.6 million in the 2012 presidential race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They could spend significantly more this election.
“The stakes in this election for law-abiding gun owners have never been higher, and the NRA will use all available resources to ensure that voters understand the consequences of a Hillary Clinton presidency on their fundamental right of self-defense,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund.