Billboard battle aims to peeve, praise President Trump


Not to be outdone by an anti-Trump group whose impeachment billboard is going up Monday along the presidential motorcade route, a political action committee devoted to defending attacks against the president is taking its battle to the street - actually, Okeechobee Boulevard - with its own billboard, also going up on Monday.

“When we saw the billboards go up we said, ‘we’re not going to let them have the field to themselves,’ ” said Ted Harvey, chairman of the Committee to Defend the President. “We will never leave the field of battle and we will be aggressive in our tactics.”

Harvey said his committee knew about the Impeachment Now billboards being put up around the country by Mad Dog PAC, a newly formed committee targeting the president, the NRA and Republican candidates. But when Mad Dog PAC announced it would put up an impeachment billboard on the route the president’s motorcade usually takes from Palm Beach International Airport to Mar-a-Lago, they decided to fight back.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

The committee mobilized its design team and began scouring the area for billboards, Harvey said. The closest billboard they could find on such short notice was just west of I-95 along Okeechobee Boulevard - not on the motorcade route. However, on April 2 - the day after Easter - the committee’s second billboard will go up. Not only is it along the motorcade route but it is also on the flip side of Mad Dog PAC’s impeachment billboard.

“That’s great,” said Claude Taylor, co-founder of Mad Dog PAC and a self-described “veteran political prankster” who served on the White House staff of former President Bill Clinton. However, Taylor was disappointed in the design to be used on the competition’s billboard. It is identical to Mad Dog’s billboard with one exception: “Impeachment Now - Make America American Again” has been replaced with “Thank You President Trump - Keep America Great!”

“That’s incredibly lame,” said Taylor, adding that he is not familiar with the Committee to Defend the President. “That’s the best they could do?”

The Committee to Defend the President was established as the hybrid Stop Hillary PAC in 2013. The PAC changed its name to the Committee to Defend the President in 2017. The group is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Harvey is a former member of the Colorado Senate and former staffer in the Reagan White House.

The committee’s mission now is to defend the president from the “radical left as he sets about undoing the progressive policies that are destroying our nation.

“The ‘resistance’ has gone off the rails, spreading impeachment propaganda with no basis in reality,” Harvey said in the statement Friday. “Millions of Americans nationwide continue to support President Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda, and we will continue standing up for them.”

Mad Dog PAC and its billboard campaign is the unintended by-product of a tweet Taylor posted about the booking photo of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Fort Walton Beach, who was arrested in 2008 for DUI. The charge was dropped, but the mugshot lives on. It is occasionally resurrected when Gaetz makes headlines.

In the ensuing Twitter thread, someone jokingly suggested putting Gaetz’ mugshot on a billboard in his district in Florida’s Panhandle. Taylor figured, why not? He began asking for money to help do it. And the money poured in - more than he needed for the Gaetz billboard. So, in December, he decided to form a political action committee for other billboards.

In about 70 days, Mad Dog PAC has raised over $100,000 and erected 16 billboards in eight states.

By contrast, the Committee to Defend the President raised $5.7 million since 2016.



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