Super PACs are starting to turn their fire on GOP front-runner Donald Trump in run-up to Tuesday's presidential primary in Virginia. But one such effort is running almost under the radar, targeting a largely rural congressional district that the PAC's spokesman believes could be a Trump stronghold.
The small super PAC launched an anti-Trump radio ad and accompanying Facebook ads, targeting Virginia's 5th Congressional District. The aim is to sow doubt about Trump's record as a businessman, charging that his real personal record is one of "fighting for himself, not for us."
Liz Mair, the PAC's spokeswoman and one of its principals, told AMI Newswire the size of the ad buy "is still being firmed up," but the entire effort, radio and Facebook, could run about $1,000.
Asked why the PAC decided to concentrate on Virginia, and the 5th District in particular, Mair said "We chose to focus on Virginia specifically, given the state of the race in other states, caucus rules in other states and so on."
Another, secondary, figure, in the Make America Awesome ad effort is the 5th District's former congressman, Virgil Goode.
Goode represented the 5th for 12 years, first as a Democrat, then as an independent, and finally as a Republican. He lost the seat in the 2008, but resurfaced in 2012 as the Constitution Party's presidential nominee.
This year, however, Goode is back in the Republican fold and supporting Donald Trump.
That's one of the reasons why Make America Awesome picked the 5th.
"Goode has endorsed Trump," Mair said, noting that, "our analysis indicates that voters in this district are likely to be drawn to Trump.
"Goode's politics and policy preferences back when he was in office were similar in many ways to those of Trump, at least in this race," Mair said. "So we see some overlap there."
But it's more than just the Goode connection that drew the PAC's interest. "Also, in full candor," she added," we can make our money go further in this part of the state than others. So, it's a variety of factors," Mair said.
Goode released a YouTube video on behalf of Trump on Monday, in which the former congressman said "super PACs have too much influence on our government" and that in Trump, voters will get a candidate who will "stand up for the average citizen."
Goode also says that Trump will "build the wall," along the U.S. border with Mexico, "and protect us from the invasion from other countries."
While super PACs have, indeed, been very active in this presidential election cycle, Make America Awesome, based in Alexandria, Virginia, won't be confused with the massive super PACs like Jeb Bush's Right to Rise.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Make America Awesome has spent just $16,679 through the end of February. By comparison, Bush's Right to Rise spent more than $86 million backing his now-suspended presidential bid.
The super PAC has just two principals: Mair, a political consultant who was briefly part of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's presidential effort, and Republican media strategist Rick Wilson, whose sparring with Trump and Trump supporters on Twitter has become almost legendary.
Mair told AMI Newswire the Virginia effort, and the PAC, is "almost exclusively small-dollar funded," adding, "It's fair to say most of our donors are center-right folks, many with a libertarian streak."
"We're assessing where the effort goes on a day-by-day basis," she said. Asked whether Make America Awesome will continue to nip at Trump's heels through the GOP's convention in July, Mair said, "it's hard to speculate about what the situation will be heading into the convention at this stage.
"But," she added, "we're thinking through that."