Fighter jets, truck drivers, American flags, a narrator with a twang, and a country-rock soundtrack: That’s how a new group lobbying Congress to pass more aid for Ukraine plans to woo their constituents.
The spot for the organization, Freedom at Home and Abroad, will air on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, according to executive director Michael Franklin, who said the organization is spending $400,000 on media in August. Details of the campaign were shared ahead of time with Semafor.
The group’s target is pretty clear: blue collar, Republican-leaning voters, who polls show are divided over whether to provide Ukraine with further aid. The aesthetics are right out of a Ford F-150 commercial.
“Tell Congress: we’re not weak or scared,” the voiceover says. “We stand for American values. And when we stand up to bullies, we show that America is strong enough to take on anyone. We stand with Ukraine.”
The ad also tries to play on negative views in the U.S. toward the Chinese government: one clip features Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This fits with arguments I’ve often heard around Capitol Hill: Republicans supportive of Ukraine frequently say that a victory by Putin in Ukraine would embolden Xi to try to invade Taiwan.
Before launching the campaign, Freedom at Home and Abroad conducted focus groups with Republican-leaning voters in Phoenix and Atlanta to understand attitudes on sending aid to Ukraine.
According to a summary of the results viewed by Semafor, the Republican participants worried that a Russian success in its invasion of Ukraine could fuel Chinese aggression while depleting U.S. military supplies. Some participants complained about the cost of sending more assistance to Ukraine, but understood there would be a “political price” if the U.S. were to abandon support, the document said.
The group is registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, records show, and is affiliated with a larger global effort out of London headed by Jim Murphy, a former member of the U.K. parliament, Franklin said.
- A poll by CNN released on Friday found support for more Ukraine funding hitting new lows, with 55% of respondents opposed to new aid. 71% of Republicans say the U.S. has done enough to assist Ukraine already, underscoring the challenge the group faces.