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A group of women-led political action committees have pledged $10 million in digital ads to Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris as she prepares for the first — and only — debate against Vice President Mike Pence.

“We have seen some concerning signs of an enthusiasm gap among voters that, frankly, were left behind by Democratic outreach in 2016,” said Tara McGowan, the CEO of PACRONYM, a political action committee.

PACRONYM, which has been running a $75 million anti-Trump effort since 2019, will join Black PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes and EMILY’s List WOMEN VOTE! in committing the $10 million worth of digital ads. 

“The groups that have come together believe strongly that Kamala Harris is an incredible asset to the Biden campaign and the Democratic ticket when it comes to increasing enthusiasm and motivation among voters that we need to turn out,: McGowan said. “And yet, at the same time, as we know well, women in public office and women running for public office are very easy targets of attacks and disinformation designed to discredit them.”

McGowan told CBS News that the re-election campaign for President Trump has “ramped” up their attacks on Harris in the past week, targeting “low information voters.” McGowan called it a strategy designed to suppress Democratic turnout as opposed to persuading voters over to his side.  Particularly concerning to Democrats are signs of low enthusiasm among voters of color in some battleground states, something all too reminiscent of the presidential election in 2016.

Democratic U.S. Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a voter mobilization drive-in event at UNLV on October 2, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

“[In 2016] Democrats had a lot of blind spots,” McGowan said. “This program is one of many solutions to make sure that we are not taking these voters for granted and that we are giving them a reason why they should be voting for a Biden- Harris ticket in November.”

The ads, obtained exclusively by CBS News, range from showcasing Harris’ record on issues like healthcare and criminal justice reform, two issues that concerned some voters during her own campaign for president in 2019.  One ad put out by PACRONYM features former President Obama, who says Harris is “more than prepared for the job,” and is “someone who knows what it’s like to overcome barriers.” The ads will run on digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pandora, Roku, Plutotv, Viacom and Outbrain, among other placements.

“We know that Kamala Harris is deeply committed to making progress on issues that are critical to Black communities,” Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of Black PAC, said in a statement to CBS News. “We also know that the Trump campaign has spent almost two years distorting and misrepresenting her record.”

BLACK PAC will be launching a series of ads intended to reach Black voters still unfamiliar with the senator from California.

“The best person to break through the noise and confusion is Kamala Harris herself and we intend to help amplify her voice and her message to Black voters.” Shropshire said.

Planned Parenthood Votes will also run ads that will showcase Harris, “through a sexual and reproductive health rights lens.”

“Kamala Harris has spent her career advocating for women and families, always calling out the disparities women of color and women with low incomes face in health care,.” Jenny Lawson, the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Votes, said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood Votes is excited to join with our partners in highlighting Sen. Harris to voters.”

Harris arrived in Salt Lake City Friday night, and will spend the upcoming days off the campaign trail and preparing for her debate with Pence, who at a recent virtual fundraiser she called, “a good debater.”

“I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint,” Harris said with a laugh. “Because literally, he’s a very, he’s a very good debater. He’s a very good debater. So, I definitely am going to prepare for this debate like I have for previous debates. But I take this debate very seriously. And I think we can expect he’s going to be very good.”

It’s a sentiment shared by the last person to debate Pence, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016. 

“As a former professional talk show host, Vice President Pence is a strong communicator who can deliver a line—even a false one—extremely well,” Kaine said in a statement to CBS News. “But as a former prosecutor, Senator Harris can effectively present evidence in a case. There’s a lot of evidence for how the Trump-Pence Administration has failed the American people, so I have no doubt she’ll do well.”

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