Biden targets young voters amid anger over racial inequality in new digital ad

The video will run in key battleground states.

June 9, 2020, 8:07 AM

Amid the national conversation on racial injustices engulfing the nation following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign is hoping to galvanize support among diverse, young voters with a new digital ad focused on the country's history of progress in the wake of setbacks.

The ad, called "Progress," uses portions of Biden's remarks from a speech in Philadelphia last week addressing systemic racism across the country, overlaid with images of recent protests across the nation seeking sweeping changes to the national policing systems.

"The history of this nation teaches us that in some of our darkest moments of despair, we've made some of our greatest progress. The 13th, 14th, 15th amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economic growth in world history grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor's vicious dogs," the ad begins, using audio from Biden's address last Tuesday, with a swell of hopeful music.

"It will take more than talk. We've had talk before. We've had protests before. Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes," Biden said, later adding that if elected, he would create a national police oversight commission to review hiring and training practices and reform the system when necessary.

"It's going to take the work of a generation. If we stand together, finally as one America, we'll rise stronger than we were before," Biden concludes.

The ad, shared first with ABC News, will run statewide on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, in battleground states including Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, targeting in particular young Americans -- a "key constituency" the campaign is focusing on ahead of November.

The campaign has stepped up its online spending in recent days, with more than $5 million dollars spent on Facebook ads this week alone, a sum that outpaces its total spending on the platform for roughly the first 11 months of the campaign.

Since June first, the campaign spent $1 million on Google ads as well, and added more than a million names to their email list.

"1.2 million new people joined our email list between yesterday and....June 1st," Rob Flaherty, Biden's Digital Director tweeted Monday, noting the significant uptick in online engagement.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event in Dover, Del., Friday, June 5, 2020.
Susan Walsh/AP

Since launching his campaign last April, Biden has sought to draw a strong contrast with President Donald Trump, criticizing his habit of using incendiary and divisive language during his time in the White House, and pitching himself as a unifying figure.

Biden has tried to capitalize on the energy behind current protests across the country, emerging back on the physical campaign trail for the first time since mid-March, with events and remarks focused on addressing the anger and frustration gripping the country.

The push to appeal to young, diverse voters was a priority laid out by senior campaign officials on a call with reporters in May, noting the group was among three constituencies Biden's team plans to focus on in the general election.

It's also a group that Biden struggled to win over in the primary race, with the voting bloc largely preferring progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders to the former vice president.

The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll shows the presumptive Democratic nominee is still struggling to win over the group. The majority of voters ages 18 to 29 hold an unfavorable opinion of the former vice president, according to the poll from late May.

With less than five months to go until voters cast their ballots, Biden's team is ramping up its efforts to reach young voters in a campaign trail that remains largely virtual. Biden recently launched League 46, an initiative to mobilize and empower students, young professionals and young elected officials, and recorded a video message delivered to the Class of 2020 earlier this week.

Along with the new ad, the campaign also plans to spend money boosting video clips from Biden's virtual town hall with young African American leaders, students and activists last week. The talk highlighted Biden's plans to close the racial wealth and income gap and achieve police reform following Floyd's death.

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