Democrats troll GOP Miami debate with mobile billboard attacking Trump, Republican candidates

"We almost forgot about the debate..." one of the billboards says.

November 8, 2023, 6:50 PM

With the GOP candidates descending on Miami for the third Republican primary debate Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee deployed a bilingual mobile billboard to circle the venue and jab at the frontrunner not in the room: former President Donald Trump.

The billboard message, which the DNC shared exclusively with ABC News, focuses largely on Trump and his alleged shortcomings -- and teasingly adds, "We almost forgot about the debate..." -- a pointed reference about how the former president is sucking oxygen from the Republican race.

"As Donald Trump and 2024 Republicans head to Florida for their next MAGA-off, we're reminding voters that beyond the chaos and squabbling you'll see tonight, the entire 2024 field is united around ripping away as many of our freedoms as they can," DNC spokesperson Marco Frieri said in a statement to ABC News.

The Democratic National Committee deploys a bilingual mobile billboard to circle the Republican primary debate venue in Miami on Nov. 7, 2023.
DNC (Democratic National Committee)

The billboard display was set to cruise around downtown Miami from 2 p.m. until the end of the debate. Trump isn't the only target -- the billboard will also troll the five candidates appearing on stage: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. The billboard briefly displays headshots of the five debate-night contenders, labeling their faces as "MAGA" to tie them all, in the end, back to Trump.

This, while Trump holds a rally roughly 10 miles away in Cuban-heavy Hialeah, marking his third RNC debate snub.

The Democratic National Committee deploys a bilingual mobile billboard to circle the Republican primary debate venue in Miami on Nov. 7, 2023.
DNC (Democratic National Committee)

On the billboard, in both English and Spanish, the DNC focused on branding what it calls Trump's "extreme MAGA agenda."

It quotes Trump telling MSNBC in 2016 that women who have abortions should see "some form of punishment," as well as more recent controversial comments such as his calling Hezbollah, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, "very smart." More messaging calls out how he has denied the results of the 2020 election, the first modern president to refuse a peaceful transfer of power.

The Democratic National Committee deploys a bilingual mobile billboard to circle the Republican primary debate venue in Miami on Nov. 7, 2023.
DNC (Democratic National Committee)

The billboard also accuses Trump of trying to cut Medicare and Social Security every year he was in office, creating incentives to send jobs overseas and failing to deliver on infrastructure and lower prescription drug prices. While the messaging does not mention President Joe Biden, it highlights issues where he could directly contrast his agenda with the GOP.

The RNC "welcomes Democrats' efforts to waste time and money in the red state of Florida," said the organization's press secretary Anna Kelly.

"Voters know that any of our candidates would be better than Joe Biden, which is why he continues to flail in poll after poll," she said in a statement to ABC News.

The Biden-Harris campaign put up lawn signs of the "Dark Brandon" meme around the debate venue Wednesday. The meme depicts the president with laser eyes and is often used by the campaign to push back on Republican messaging. The name "Dark Brandon" comes from the "Let's go, Brandon" Republican rallying cry against Biden.

The Biden-Harris campaign put up “Dark Brandon” signs surrounding the venue for the third Republican presidential debate in Miami, on Nov. 8, 2023.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

In a statement, Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz confirmed the lawn signs were the work of the campaign and said, “To Republicans running to strip away abortion rights, gut social security and Medicare, and undermine our democracy: You better watch out, Jack.”

Biden team shrugs off polling showing Trump ahead

The signs and mobile billboard comes as some Democrats may be riding high after a promising election night for the party with electoral wins in Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky -- still polling indicates with one year until the election, Trump could beat Biden in key battleground states.

A New York Times/Siena College poll published over the weekend showed Trump beating Biden in hypothetical matchups in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, with Biden taking Wisconsin by a slim margin. A new CNN poll released Tuesday night also showed Trump narrowly leading Biden among registered voters.

"From our vantage point, right now, this is just a snapshot in time," said Biden-Harris Campaign Manager Julie Chavez-Rodriguez.

In a press conference Tuesday, Chavez-Rodriguez and a slate of campaign surrogates defended the president from polling, homing in, instead, on condemning "MAGA Republicans."

"We're a year out from the election and so polling at this stage is not predictive," Chavez-Rodriguez said. "I think we can look at some of the historical data around this, whether it's President [Barack] Obama this time in 2011, headline's 'Obama toast' and other things. Past presidents have faced similar sort of experiences, but they've gone off to win reelection."

Hours later, when Democrats saw resounding election night wins across the country, Chavez-Rodriguez released a statement indicating it was a promising sign for the reelection campaign.

"Tonight, Democrats across the country won because they ran on standing up for personal freedoms, defending democracy and fighting for working families," she said. "Voters across the political spectrum once again showed up and voted for our agenda and rejected the dangerous MAGA extremism that has come to define today's Republican Party at every level."

ABC News' Fritz Farrow and Gabriella Abdul-Hakim contributed to this report.