but it does feel like a strange gamble to take
Using public funds to buy polling points? I reckon they probably figure it's hardly a gamble when it's not actually their money. And if they are behind in the polls, it's a shot to nothing, whatever the odds. Gives Trump his stock reply for the soon-to-come TV debates too... (Murican-made cure, bullshit, bullshit)
I could be reading it all wrong though.