• Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

Trump ad enlists an ex-football player (and accused insider trader) to tout the president’s criminal justice reform.

With President Trump trailing badly in the polls and garnering single-digit support from Black voters, his campaign broadcast an advertisement on Sunday voiced by a former pro football player touting the president’s support for criminal justice reform.

Jack Brewer, who played for the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, touts Mr. Trump’s record on the pre-pandemic economy and criminal justice reform. He gives explicit permission for Black people who, like Mr. Brewer himself, supported Barack Obama’s campaigns to get behind Mr. Trump’s re-election bid.

“Joe Biden’s America was mass-incarcerating Black men,” Mr. Brewer says. “President Trump set them free.”

Mr. Brewer, 41, might not be the best messenger for Mr. Trump. In August, just weeks before he spoke at the Republican convention, Mr. Brewer, who in his post-football life has worked as an investment adviser, was charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

There is little to quibble with among the facts Mr. Brewer presents in the ad, but he does omit important context. While Mr. Brewer touts Mr. Trump’s commitment to criminal justice reform, the president is waging a parallel campaign painting protesters against unjust policing as a danger to the country. An ad airing in Michigan features a parade of white police officers bemoaning protesters, with one warning: “Joe Biden empowers these people. The more you empower them, the more crime they go to commit.”

The Brewer ad aired twice on Sunday during nationwide broadcasts of National Football League games, according to Advertising Analytics. It is a curious strategic decision to spend money broadcasting a national message rather than focusing resources on the battleground states required to win an Electoral College victory.

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump’s top aides believed they could peel significant Black support away from Democrats. The campaign spent millions to air a Super Bowl ad touting Mr. Trump’s criminal justice reform record and his commutation of Alice Johnson’s federal prison sentence.

But between the coronavirus hitting Black people at far higher rates than whites and Mr. Trump’s reflexive support of police officers who have shot or killed Black Americans, he has so far failed to win over Black voters who might have been open to his message months ago.