Press Release

AFT Launches Six-Figure Ad Campaign Targeting Trump over PPE Lies, Inaction

Television and online ads urge Americans to contact the White House after incompetent president accused health professionals of stealing personal protective equipment

For Release: 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers today launched a six-figure television ad buy to hold President Trump accountable for his failure to protect healthcare workers and other personnel, after he bizarrely suggested nurses were stealing personal protective equipment while declining to provide PPE himself.

The refusal of the Trump administration to do all it can to get PPE and other essential supplies and equipment into the hands of frontline workers is putting lives at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spot, “Thieves,” airing in both 15-second and 30-second versions, will run in the key Washington, D.C., and New York City media markets and online, beginning April 14. The ads call out the president for falsely claiming PPE was “going out the back door” of hospitals and for refusing to release national PPE stockpiles or fully invoke the Defense Production Act to acquire it.

The AFT is the fastest-growing nurses union in the country. More than 200,000 of our 1.7 million members are nurses and other healthcare professionals.

In the ads, AFT members target the president for risking lives every day as he lobs unfounded allegations at others but fails to act to secure sufficient N95 masks, face shields and ventilators. They detail how the administration has forced states to compete against one another for equipment. And they urge viewers to call the White House at 202-456-1111 to tell the president to do his job to protect the American people.

“Frontline workers are caring for Americans during this unprecedented pandemic and are risking their own health and the lives of their patients. They are sick and tired of being lied to by this incompetent president who has bungled his response to the crisis from day one,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said.

“Our healthcare heroes are calling him out for his odious suggestion they are somehow thieves and demanding that he does his job as they do theirs. We now know six to eight weeks of preparation were lost in the president’s dismissal and denial of the pandemic. The least he could do right now is use every lever of government to get healthcare professionals the PPE they desperately need, so they can help others.

“Trump calls himself a wartime president, but our states don’t have the funds or testing they need, and our hospitals and healthcare professionals remain dangerously ill-equipped to tackle this pandemic. His refusal to do his job means our heroes will remain exposed and at risk. That’s why they’re fighting back and placing the blame where it’s deserved.”

The ads will run in the Washington, D.C., and New York City markets on Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, News 12 and NY1 over the next week. Copies of the ads can be viewed at (15 seconds) and (30 seconds). They were produced by AL Media.

30-second script

President Trump: “Something’s going on. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?”

Nurse 1: “President Trump suggested that nurses like me are possibly stealing masks.”

Nurse 2: “Wait a minute. Really?”

Nurse 3: “The anxiety every day is unbelievable.”

Nurse 4: “We don’t have the protective equipment.”

Nurse 5: “We’re going to run out.”

Nurse 6: “It’s scary”

Nurse 7: “But still, we are doing our job. … It’s time for the president to do his.”

Nurse 8: “Stop making states compete against each other.”

Nurse 9: “Do your job, Mr. President.”

Nurse 10: “… and give us the equipment we need to do our job”

Nurse 11: “… to save lives.”

Nurse 12: “Lives are on the line.”​

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.