Nearly seven months after launching his improbable quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump is out with his first television ad of the race, a 30-second spot that reflects both the ominous themes and the swashbuckling rhetoric that have defined his frontrunning campaign.
Titled "Great Again," the ad opens with an image of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, followed by photos of San Bernardino, California, terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik while a narrator darkly intones, "The politicians can pretend it's something else, but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism."
"That's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we figure out what's going on," the narrator states. Trump proposed the Muslim ban last month, after Farook and Malik killed 14 and injured 22 at a San Bernardino community center.
The ad also references Trump's call to "build a wall on our Southern border that Mexico will pay for." Otherwise, the ad offers little in the way of specifics: It promises that a President Trump "will quickly cut the head off of" the Islamic State terrorist group, which inspired Farook and Malik and is also known as ISIS. Trump would also "take [ISIS'] oil," the ad states.
"We will make America great again!" Trump then vows, shouting his campaign slogan at one of his rallies.
The strategy: Though Trump's rivals — including former frontrunner Jeb Bush — have been blanketing the airwaves for months, he had thus far only run a limited radio ad campaign in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Defying the conventions of presidential campaigns, Trump has ridden a wave of free media coverage and boisterous rallies to the top of the polls, eschewing the paid media and get-out-the-vote operations emblematic of traditional campaigns.
Appearing on CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday, Trump told host John Dickerson that he'd now spend $2 million a week on ads, although he's unconvinced they'll move the needle in his campaign for the GOP nomination.
"I think I'm probably wasting the money. But I'm $35 million under budget," Trump told Dickerson. "Look, I was going to have $35 million or $40 million spent by now. I haven't spent anything. I almost feel guilty. I think, if you want to know the truth, I'm doing the ads. I'm leading by, as you will say, a lot. You can take the CBS poll. You can take any poll, and I'm winning by a lot."
You can watch Trump's new ad below: