CNN is reporting the Hillary Clinton campaign requested Thursday that The Weather Channel delay airing its campaign ads until Hurricane Matthew passes.
“Earlier in the week we made changes to our TV ad reservations across hundreds of stations in several battleground states including Florida,” Jesse Ferguson, a Clinton spokesman, said. “Less than 1 percent of those changes included The Weather Channel. We have requested that stations in Florida delay any of those ads on the Weather Channel until after the storm passes.”
Clinton’s decision to air ads on The Weather Channel as attention shifted from the 2016 campaign to the approaching hurricane sparked some criticism from Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“I encourage both presidential campaigns to be sensitive to all affected by Hurricane #Matthew in the coming days,” Bush tweeted Wednesday, linking to a POLITICO article that reported Clinton was going to spend $63,000 on a five-day ad buy that would begin Thursday on The Weather Channel.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 6, 2016
Kristy Campbell, Bush’s former spokeswoman, called Clinton’s ad buy “a colossally huge and unforced error.”
“This is a colossally huge and unforced error by the Clinton camp. Insensitive and will piss off Floridians,” she tweeted.
This is a colossally huge and unforced error by the Clinton camp. Insensitive and will piss off Floridians. https://t.co/ok2ZYEPn7K
— Kristy Campbell (@kristymcampbell) October 5, 2016
The Weather Channel is expected to get a significant increase in viewership over the next several days due to growing interest in the possibly Category 4 hurricane.
More than two million people have already been urged to flee their homes in the southeast because of the hurricane, which has killed at least 15 people in the Caribbean. The storm is expected to make landfall on the Florida coast Thursday.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said the Clinton campaign is concerned about the storm’s potential devastation.
“We’re very mindful of the fact that a visit at the wrong time, when people are really focused on keeping themselves safe, would be a real distraction,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “So we’re just going to monitor the weather as it goes, keep everybody there in our thoughts and encourage everybody to pay attention to your local emergency instructions and follow that advice. It’s very important.”
Both campaigns are focused on Florida voters because of its swing state status. Following the first presidential debate, Clinton gained ground in Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. The Democratic nominee is leading Republican rival Donald Trump 46 percent to 41 percent.
Clinton posted a personal tweet Thursday urging Florida residents to “stay safe.”
“Hurricane #Matthew is a major storm. I urge everyone to follow emergency instructions and evacuate if you’re told to. Stay safe Florida. -H,” she tweeted.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 6, 2016
Trump, who owns a home in Palm Beach, Florida, also tweeted, “Praying for everyone in Florida. Hoping the hurricane dissipates, but in any event, please be careful.”
Praying for everyone in Florida. Hoping the hurricane dissipates, but in any event, please be careful.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2016