Donald Trump and John Kasich descended into an all-out Twitter war Thursday after it emerged that a super PAC backing the Ohio governor was launching a $2.5-million advertising blitz aimed at knocking the tycoon off his place at the top of the polls.
Pro-Kasich New Day for America PAC is planning to air radio, TV, mail and online ads in New Hampshire, the early-voting state that's make or break for Kasich and other establishment contenders — and where Trump has a wide lead.
The line of attack is one that hasn't yet been tried on Trump: Arguing he's inexperienced and unsuited for the demands of the White House. According to Politico, the group's first ad invokes the Paris attacks and ties Trump to President Obama, declaring, "On-the-job training for president does not work."
New Day is spending around $600,000 for the ad, but says they're buying more airtime.
That $2.5 million sum could grow too, strategists for the group say. And the attacks are sure to be hard-hitting — the adman behind them, Fred Davis, is known for his eye-catching yet effective political spots.
It is the first extensive and widely-publicized effort from an outside group aimed at Trump, despite near-universal agreement among party elders that the candidate has done more harm than good for the GOP.
But Trump, in typical fashion, wasn't willing to take a punch without returning one. After Politico first reported on the super PAC's plans, Trump took to Twitter to respond, unleashing a dozen tweets dismissing Kasich because of his struggles in the polls.
"John Kasich, despite being Governor of Ohio, is losing to me in the Ohio polls. Pathetic!" read one.
Trump's general counsel, Alan Garten, also penned a letter to both New Day and the Kasich campaign threatening to sue over the ads.
"Please be advised that in the event your ads contain any false, misleading, defamatory, or otherwise tortious statements or representations regarding Mr. Trump's businesses or his brand, we will not hesitate to seek immediate legal action to prevent such distribution and hold you and your organizations jointly and severally liable to the fullest extent of the law for any damages resulting therefrom," the letter read.
New Day Chief Strategist Matt David nevertheless stuck to the group's line of attack, replying that while Trump's "been successful in suing his way to financial gain… you can't sue your way to the Oval Office."
"You can't sue ISIS away. Suing Vladimir Putin won't evict Russia from the Ukraine. The role of commander in chief requires leadership, not lawyers," David wrote.
Kasich's campaign blasted out a fundraising appeal on Trump's "epic Twitter rant," telling supporters that "America simply cannot afford to elect someone who isn't prepared to lead our country" and asking them to pitch in.
And the governor's staff fired back at Trump on Twitter with a series of tweets aimed at highlighting the real-estate mogul's stumbles on foreign policy.
".@WolfBlitzer: "Who is best qualified to make Iran deal?" .@RealDonaldTrump: "I think Hillary would do a good job" 9/24/07," one tweet read.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told NBC News he found Trump's tweets "hilarious to watch."
"No one loses it that bad unless, for some reason, they're feeling very insecure," Nichols said.