There are few characteristics more important to President Trump than maintaining an appearance of toughness. The Biden campaign has enlisted the help of Dave Bautista, the 6-foot-6 former professional wrestler turned Hollywood actor, to cut into that narrative in a new ad.
Mr. Bautista, clad in a tight gray shirt imprinted with the word “Freedom,” opens the ad with a flex and a yell, then he jumps into describing the difference between “being tough and someone who portrays himself as a tough guy,” as the ad toggles between images of him and Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bautista draws a distinction between the president and Joseph R. Biden Jr.: “It’s easy to lie to people; it’s easy to bully people,” he says. “That does not make you a tough guy. It’s easy to tell someone what they want to hear. It’s not easy to tell someone what they need to hear.”
As a map shows coronavirus cases increasing across the country, Mr. Bautista says that what America needs is “someone who’s going to have a plan, so we can get back on track.” Scenes of Mr. Biden greeting voters fill the screen.
The ad ends with Mr. Bautista circling back to the concept of toughness, praising Mr. Biden as a leader who is “stepping back into this fight for Americans.”
The ad makes no verifiable claims.
Where It’s Running
The ad is running on both television markets in Arizona where Mr. Biden holds a slight lead over Mr. Trump, according to polling averages.
Professional wrestling is a popular form of entertainment among white men, a constituency among whom Mr. Biden consistently trails Mr. Trump, and a testimonial from one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s legends is clearly aimed at that audience. But the ad also comes as the Biden campaign has been avoiding an emphasis on negative messaging, with 40 percent of its ads wholly positive.
The criticism from Mr. Bautista in the beginning, cutting at Mr. Trump’s proud claims of toughness, borrows a bit from previous negative ads from groups like the Lincoln Project that both criticized the president and sought to get under his skin.