Though Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to recruit social media users into posting for the billionaire appear to be a waste of time, the campaign is reportedly planning to return to its tried-and-true media strategy of spending an obscene amount of money in order to make up the two-digit polling gap between the candidate and front-runner Bernie Sanders.
While the campaign has already spent over $500 million on ad buys — with many of those targeting President Trump — the messaging in the coming days will be designed to undermine Sanders’s support prior to Super Tuesday, according to CNBC:
The campaign plans a multipronged attack, including the publication of opposition research on Sanders, [senior Bloomberg aides] said. It will also push out digital attack ads focused on Sanders’ record. On Monday, the Bloomberg campaign attempted to paint Sanders as a past ally of the National Rifle Association, a gun advocacy group that Bloomberg has fought for over a decade.
The attacks on Sanders, who has accused Bloomberg of trying to buy the Democratic nomination, will also attempt to highlight negative aspects of his record on race relations both as a congressman and senator, the sources said. This comes after Sanders, now seen as the Democratic front-runner, has taken aim at Bloomberg for his support of a policing policy known as stop-and-frisk that often targeted black and Latino people.
People within the Bloomberg campaign are also discussing whether to have surrogates and supporters write op-eds and show up on TV to speak out against Sanders, these people added.
The blitz on Sanders was already apparent on Monday, in a digital ad hitting the Vermont senator on gun-safety legislation, highlighting his support from the National Rifle Association in his initial run for Congress in 1990. In a press release associated with the ad, the campaign said that surrogates would continue to stress the difference between Bloomberg’s gun record and Sanders’s.
Going after Sanders on guns in a primary isn’t a new strategy: In 2016, both Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton criticized the senator from rural, gun-friendly Vermont for opposing the Brady Act mandating federal background checks for firearms purchases, and his support for a bill in 2003 and 2005 that protects gun companies from lawsuits when their products are involved in criminal acts. But as Vox notes, since 2016, Sanders has become more aggressive in his positions on gun control, co-sponsoring bills to “expand background checks, ban assault weapons, further prohibit domestic abusers from getting firearms, encourage the passage of ‘red flag’ laws, restrict 3D-printed guns, and more.”
Bloomberg’s media buy targeting Sanders is coming at a pivotal time in the primary. If the billionaire candidate is not able to chip away at Sanders’s support by Super Tuesday, or consolidate the vote share of other moderate candidates, Bernie’s lead could quickly become too great to surpass. On Monday, Morning Consult released a national poll showing the Vermont senator with 32 percent support, followed by Bloomberg at 19 percent, and Joe Biden — who is hoping for a boost in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, where he still commands a slim lead — with 18 percent.