Clinton Buys $63K in Weather Channel Ads Pre-Hurricane

This could be a smart buy in battleground state of Florida—or it could backfire
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2016 8:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – One wouldn't think buying commercial spots on the Weather Channel would be the obvious media choice for presidential candidates vying for votes, but with Hurricane Matthew barreling toward the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina just a month before Election Day, that's exactly what Hillary Clinton's campaign is doing, Politico reports. The Democratic candidate has spent $63,000 with the network for five days' worth of ads targeting Sunshine State markets starting Thursday. But while it's a smart pre-election purchase in terms of viewership (the Weather Channel is likely to see a surge of watchers as the storm progresses), it could backfire if voters think Clinton is exploiting a dangerous situation for political benefit. (Politico notes other candidates, including Donald Trump, have also bought Weather Channel ads in 2016.)

It's usually a tricky political situation with a major weather event, as political leaders toe the line between taking charge in affected areas and not looking like "a politically crass politician who's parachuting in for a photo-op," as an adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign puts it. There's even a difference between how a president is received versus candidates. President Obama himself was set to be in Florida campaigning for Clinton, but he was stymied by Matthew and called his pitch into a Miami radio station instead, per the Miami Herald. A Clinton campaign rep downplays the Weather Channel ads, noting it was "less than 1%" of the campaign's recent media spending in battleground states. The storm may also put many campaign volunteers and staffers on both sides temporarily out of commission as they hunker down. (Matthew may hit Florida twice.)

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