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Why Hillary Clinton Is Buying Ads in Red-State Arizona

3 minute read

Hillary Clinton is starting a daring war against Donald Trump with a six-figure advertising buy in the traditionally red state of Arizona.

The announcement by a senior campaign official comes the morning after Trump delivered a hardline immigration speech in Phoenix in which he vowed to deport undocumented immigrants and promised again that Mexico would pay for a wall on the U.S. border.

Clinton’s advertising buy will initially be six figures and feature the ad “Role Models,” which shows children watching some of Trump’s more incendiary comments.

The Clinton campaign’s decision to buy airtime in Arizona is a bold and unusual move for Democratic presidential candidates. The state has not been won by a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996, and before that, Harry Truman in 1948. In 2012, the Obama campaign began an effort to campaign and register voters in Arizona, hoping to attract Latinos dismayed by the Republican Party, but ultimately pulled out resources away months before the election.

But this year, with the unpopular Trump at the top of the ticket, flagging enthusiasm for the Republican Party in the state and a rapidly growing Latino population in Arizona, the Clinton campaign believes the state may be worth the bet. Recent polls show that Trump and Clinton are within a few percentage points in the state, with Trump taking only a slight lead.

“Backlash against Trump’s divisive rhetoric and dangerous campaign, including his embrace of a deportation force and the alt-right hate movement, have increased the opportunities in the state,” a senior campaign official said.

Trump’s position at the top of the Republican ticket has also endangered party stalwart Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who is locked in a tight race to hold onto his Senate seat with Democratic challenger Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. McCain has said he will support Trump, though Trump began his campaign by insulting him.

The other senator from Arizona, Republican Jeff Flake, who is not up for reelection this year, has declined so far to endorse Trump.

Perhaps the biggest swing demographic in the state is white women, who may decide to vote against Trump in droves. The Clinton ad directly addresses some of the concerns middle-aged women have with Trump. The Clinton campaign will also need to turn out large numbers of Latinos.

The Clinton campaign also has advertisements up in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Omaha market in Nebraska. But the campaign has pulled advertisements out of Colorado and Virginia, which in past election cycles were swing states but now are seen as relatively safe for Democrats.

For Democrats, Arizona is the new frontier.

“In a stand-up race with Hillary and The Donald, I definitely say Arizona is in play,” Chuck Coughlin, a Republican operative in Arizona told TIME in March.

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