WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is countering impeachment efforts against him with a new surge in Facebook ads, while his Democratic rivals are saying little on the subject on the social media site or the campaign trail.
Trump ran more than 2,500 ads mentioning "impeach" or "impeachment" in the week through Dec 5, more than his campaign did in the prior two weeks combined, according to a Reuters analysis of data published by Facebook Inc.
The ads criticise the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry in the US House of Representatives as producing "baseless LIES" and ask for money to support Trump's bid to win another four-year term in November 2020.
The torrent of messages is a sign of Trump's belief that the impeachment effort will backfire on Democrats, energising his base and winning over independents skeptical of the process. Public opinion polls show support for impeachment is concentrated among Democrats.
Leading Democrats vying to challenge Trump next year have supported the impeachment process but ran only a handful of ads mentioning impeachment in recent weeks, according to the Reuters analysis of the most recent Facebook data available which was gathered by researchers at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering.
They have focused instead on issues like healthcare, gun laws and climate change.
That could change if the Republican-led Senate takes up the impeachment matter next month and dismisses the charges, said Nicholas Valentino, a political scientist at the University of Michigan.
"Dismissal will be a highly mobilising tool" for Democrats, Valentino said.
House Democrats unveiled formal impeachment charges on Tuesday that accuse Trump of "betraying" the country by abusing power in an effort to pressure Ukraine to probe a political rival and then obstructing Congress' investigation into the scandal.
While the House appears likely to approve impeachment, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to dismiss the charges.
Trump has denied wrongdoing. He again ripped into Democrats at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, calling the probe a hoax.
"The ONLY thing stopping Democrats from carrying out their impeachment WITCH HUNT is Patriotic Americans standing with President Trump," according to the text of an ad Trump's Facebook page ran on Dec 3. Other anti-impeachment ads by Trump solicit supporters' phone numbers and email addresses.
In contrast, Democrats' recent FaRead More – Source