Trump billboard battle heats up, again


How much would you pay to own a piece of a billboard -once located on the presidential motorcade route - that called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump?

An unidentified buyer has paid $2,500 for the section of the sign that spells out the word “NOW” - as in “IMPEACHMENT NOW.” The eleven letters in the word impeachment are going for $500 apiece, while an 5” x 7” piece of vinyl billboard runs $25.

Demand for the billboard memorabilia has raised enough money for MadDog PAC, a small, grassroots political action committee, to put the billboard back up along Southern Boulevard through November.

“We consider it our flagship billboard,” said Claude Taylor, co-founder of the Maryland-based committee about the billboard returning to its previous site on Monday. “It’s going to be there, month in, month out.”

The return of the billboard comes even as Democratic Party leaders, like House minority leader U.S. Rep Nancy Pelosi, are tamping down impeachment talk.

They fear harping too much on impeachment will  galvanize Republican candidates and voter. And Democratic candidates who endorse impeachment risk losing independent voters.

A recent NRP/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 47 percent of independent voters — whose opinions could be decisive — also say they would vote against candidates favoring impeachment.

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Still, Taylor said the impeachment billboards are timely. 

“The “Impeachment Now” is a process,” Taylor said. “It’s all connected to turning the House blue, having enough votes  to bring about an impeachment vote.”

MadDog PAC angered a deep-pocket pro-Trump group in March when it put up the red, white and blue billboard calling for impeachment. 

When the pro-Trump, Committee to Defend the President learned about the anti-Trump billboard along the motorcade route, it fired back.

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“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  in March. “We will never leave the field of battle and we will be aggressive in our tactics.”

Unable to quickly lease billboard space near the impeachment billboard on Southern Boulevard, the committee leased another billboard nearby, on Okeechobee Boulevard - and then put dibs on the billboard on the opposite side of the impeachment billboard.

On April 2, the day after President Donald Trump returned to Washington after celebrating Easter weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the “Thank You President Trump” billboard went up on the flip side of the “Impeachment Now” billboard.

MadDog thought it won the battle - being the only billboard up over Easter weekend, when the president’s motorcade drove back and forth to Mar-a-Lago and the airport and Trump’s golf course in West Palm Beach. 

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Trump in Palm Beach

Thinking its work was done and the president would not return, the impeachment billboard came down on April 15. Then the White House announced the president would host a summit at Mar-a-Lago with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 17-18 - meaning the “Thank You” billboard was the only one standing when the president, Abe, vice president Mike Pence, cabinet members and an army of diplomats descended on Mar-a-Lago.

The Berlin-wall sales tactic of selling discarded scraps of political artifacts as memorabilia hauled in $10,000 for MadDog- enough to keep the billboard up through November, Taylor said.

Taylor, a self-described “veteran political prankster” served on the White House staff of former President Bill Clinton. He co-founded MadDog PAC with a friend in December, after being encouraged to erect a billboard deriding Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Fort Walton Beach.

He asked for donations. The money flowed in. Since then the committee has erected more than 50 billboard targeting conservative candidates and the NRA. In five months the group has raised $338,354.

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.

Since 2018, the Committee to Defend the President has raised $5.7 million.

Even though its unlikely the president will see the billboard - Trump usually golfs at his other clubs during the summer -   Taylor said the group had to lease the billboard through the summer to ensure it would be up in November, during the mid-term elections and Trump’s likely return to Mar-a-Lago.

 


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