President Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign has taken out an ad buy on Fox News during the Aug. 23 first GOP primary debate, using the event to hammer Republicans on the issue of abortion.
The ad will attempt to re-brand the “Dark Brandon” meme, which conservatives have used to slam Biden, and repurpose it into a campaign tool.
Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager for Biden’s 2024 campaign, told PEOPLE, who first reported the story, that Fox News’ website is “a surprising place for the president to show up” and is prime real estate for the campaign ad.
Lot of Dark Brandon in Dem debate counter-programming, these are on billboard screens around Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/lNJSGry1Wl
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 23, 2023
“I think it fits both the president’s ethos of going everywhere and not writing off any voters,” Flaherty says. “It also speaks to the sort of strided, swaggy Dark Brandon personality of, ‘Yeah, we’re going to go on Fox News and talk about protecting and restoring Roe.'”
The issue of abortion turned out to be a significant electoral issue, which galvanized voters following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade last summer. The issue helped Democrats in key battleground states, allowing them to turn the expected “Red Wave” into a trickle wherein Republicans picked up far fewer seats than expected.
Exit polling showed abortion was the second most important issue to voters, trailing only inflation. Democrats are now planning to keep the issue front-and-center as the 2024 election cycle heats up.
“It’s going to be the top issue in the election, if not one of the top two issues,” said Mini Timmaraju, president of the organization NARAL Pro-Choice America of 2024. “I think the issue of abortion is just going to get more and more salient to voters, but I also think we as a movement have done a good job of connecting the dots between reproductive rights and our fundamental democracy.”
The new Dark Brandon ad campaign does not only address abortion, despite that being the issue appearing on Fox News. The campaign says that other versions will drop in Milwaukee, each touching on an issue that most Americans support, but that the GOP opposes.
“These are places where we see an effective contrast between … the president and the entirety of the Republican field,” Flaherty said.