In a profound statement about how toxic Donald Trump’s candidacy has become, some Republican candidates are even threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support their own party’s nominee.
Four House Republicans — Bob Dold (Ill.), Mike Coffman (Co.), David Jolly (Fl.), and John Katko (N.Y.) — and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat currently held by his brother, contend that certain ads paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) make false or misleading claims by connecting them to Donald Trump, essentially saying that linking them to their party’s nominee amounts to defamation.
To be fair, all five candidates have, in the past, said that they do not support Trump. And it is not unusual for candidates to threaten TV stations with legal action in order to get ads pulled. However, it is rare for a lawsuit to actually be filed as candidates mostly count on TV stations to take down the ads.
The DCCC confirmed that none of the ads were taken down by the TV stations, though some of the ads have stopped airing because their runs have ended.
The ads appear to be standard ads that are aired by both sides of the aisle, particularly, by the national committees of each party. The threat of lawsuit just proves the unprecedented toxicity of Trump.
Additionally, while the threat of a lawsuit may make the point that the candidate does not support the Republican nominee to some, it runs some risks as well. For one, it draws attention to the ads causing voters to actually view them. Secondly, particular to this election, the threat of legal action actually makes the candidate look more like the famously litigious head of the ticket.
However, it appears that these candidates have decided that the benefits of legal action outweigh the risks.