The campaign and candidacy of Michael Bloomberg

Anthony Lopez, Contributing Writer

On Feb. 19, there must have been a number of viewers surprised to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the stage at the Nevada Democratic Debate. Despite not being eligible for Nevada’s caucuses, Bloomberg joined several other candidates for the very first time. Following his surge in popularity among voters, he has risen in some polls to second or third place. In fact, many other viewers must have anticipated the mayor’s presence at the debate, considering how much his campaign has spent on ads and screen time.

Bloomberg’s campaign has reportedly spent over $400 million since he began running for President. In January alone, he had spent over $220 million, of which over half had gone to an advertising firm named Assembly. In comparison, the next highest spender for his campaign is billionaire Tom Steyer, who in January had spent over $50 million. Both of these men are largely self-funded, though Steyer has several hundred thousand dollars in voter contributions, whereas Bloomberg has none.

It is Bloomberg’s aggressive marketing campaign and name recognition which has brought him as far as he has, mainly due to the fact that he has a seemingly endless supply of money. Bloomberg’s net worth is over $60 billion, dwarfing U.S. President Donald Trump’s net worth of approximately $3 billion. Bloomberg’s funding is why you would be hard-pressed to not see any of his ads during the election. His campaign can spread farther and garner much more attention than any of the other candidates, which is why you hear so often from his opponents that he is attempting to “buy the election.”

In a way, his strategy of spending hundreds of millions on ads has worked; after all, he made it into the Nevada debate in time for March 3, also known as Super Tuesday. Bloomberg’s campaign is placing its bets on the 14 states that will be voting on that day, but they are likely also hoping that his performance at the Nevada debate did not hurt his chances.

From the very beginning, the Mayor received a consistent battering on his policies, efficacy and personal life, with Senator Elizabeth Warren pointing out the dozens of women currently silenced under non-disclosure agreements due to Bloomberg’s comments. Senator Bernie Sanders brought up stop-and-frisk, a horrendously racist policy that was passed under Bloomberg wherein police could detain any individual and search them. The policy was heavily biased towards minority groups; in the first half of 2019 alone, nearly 90 percent of those who were stopped were either black or Latino

While Bloomberg had apologized for the policy, his behavior at the debate seemed almost resigned and, at times, even apathetic. His stance on being the Democratic moderate, who was the only true viable candidate to compete against Trump, fell largely flat. Rather than fiercely debating against his competitors and proving his worth as the candidate, he took the heat and seemed to never recover. Following the event, his campaign managers even had to apologize for not adequately preparing him for his performance in Nevada. 

Yet will that be enough to slow him down? It is difficult to say. When appearing on The View, Warren said, “You know what I’ll bet he’s doing right now? I’ll bet he’s reaching in his pocket and spending $100 million more on advertising to try to erase everyone’s memory of what happened last night.” 

In the end, that is the core of what people mean when they say that Bloomberg is attempting to “buy the election.” His performance was more than lackluster in Las Vegas, and it would not be a stretch to imagine that his campaign decided to pour even more money into advertising in order to preserve the sterilized, composed version of the mayor that he wants to be seen as. He has been working endlessly to present himself to the American voters as powerful, moderate and the best alternative to a Trump presidency, despite the evidence proving the contrary. Ultimately, we will have to wait until Super Tuesday to find out if his advertising strategies will be enough to win him the voters he so desperately wants. 

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