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Eyes on 2024: Making the case against Trump

Win it Back PAC is launching a new TV ad in Iowa and South Carolina Tuesday featuring a former Trump supporter criticizing the former president.

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Win it Back PAC, a group hitting the airwaves to take on former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary, is launching a new TV ad Tuesday featuring a former Trump supporter who says the former president is “polarizing” and unelectable, noting that Trump-backed candidates lost in last year’s midterms. 

“When his endorsement makes you lose, things just aren’t working out well,” the man says in the 60-second spot, which will air in Iowa and South Carolina as part of a $3.6 million ad buy.

David McIntosh, president of the conservative group Club for Growth who is working with the PAC, told reporters during a Monday night briefing that the group tested roughly 30 different messages against Trump, and GOP voters were not swayed by more straightforward attacks. 

“Part of what we wanted to portray in the ads was Trump supporters are anxious about whether he can beat Biden — winning that race is the most important thing,” McIntosh said, later adding, “The testing with focus groups and some of the online polling showed voters were willing to listen to that message.”

McIntosh stressed that the PAC is separate from the Club for Growth, which also spent against Trump in 2016 but then backed him, in part because of its funding but also to distance Club-backed candidates from the anti-Trump effort. McIntosh said the Club for Growth would back Trump if he is the nominee, noting the main concern is that Trump cannot defeat President Joe Biden. 

For now, the Club is not endorsing a candidate in the GOP primary. But McIntosh name-checked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy as candidates who have “impressed” the group, adding that some members also support former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence. 

In other campaign news …

Tim Scott on the move: While South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is still trailing in national polling, his early ad spending in the first few primary and caucus states has him popping in statewide polling there, NBC News’ Scott Bland reports.

Haley on Trump: During a Monday appearance on CNBC, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley reaffirmed her pledge to support Trump if he’s the nominee, but said Trump “can’t win a general election.” 

Win or withdraw: In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, urged non-Trump candidates to withdraw from the race and coalesce around the one Trump challenger who seems to have the best path to the nomination after several early primary and caucus contests next year.

A “longer than long shot candidate”: The New York Times went on the road with former Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd, who is mounting a longshot campaign for president, hoping a unity message can boost his standing among Republican primary voters.

A quick rise: Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who was thought to be a longshot candidate when he announced his campaign in February, has risen in the polls. NBC News’ Allan Smith reports voters on the ground are enthusiastic about him, albeit not always more supportive of Ramaswamy than they are of Trump.

Dark money wars: The Lincoln Project is spending $100,000 on the airwaves in D.C., NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports, funding an ad that knocks the No Labels group, its founder Nancy Jacobson and her husband, Mark Penn, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton.

On second thought: About a week after saying he wasn’t ready to pick sides in the 2024 GOP presidential race, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is running for Senate, backed Trump

Speaking of second thoughts: Club for Growth President David McIntosh appeared to tamper expectations that the group would endorse GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale if he runs for Senate in Montana. McIntosh stressed that Rosendale has not yet decided if he is going to run, noting that the group has also met with Republican Tim Sheehy, who has the backing of GOP leaders and top Montana Republicans. McIntosh said Sheehy met with the group and he was an “impressive candidate.” 

Working Families weighs in on California: The Working Families Party in California backed Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee in her Senate campaign.