Bloomberg, Trump Preview Dueling Ads Ahead of Super Bowl

Mario Parker and Mark Niquette
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Bloomberg, Trump Preview Dueling Ads Ahead of Super Bowl

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg on Thursday unveiled dueling multimillion-dollar campaign ads that are scheduled to air during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

The ads highlight the candidates’ signature issues: gun violence for Bloomberg and the economy for Trump. The former New York mayor and the president each reserved 60 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl costing $11 million, according to Advertising Analytics, which tracks political ads. Trump is running two 30-second spots, while Bloomberg will have a 60-second ad. The annual football game is the most-watched television broadcast.

One Trump ad strikes a patriotic tone, opening with the president’s silhouette emerging in front of a draped American flag. Over images of military helicopters, Navy ships and fighter jets, the narrator says, “America is stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever before.” The ad then rattles off a list of indicators intended to demonstrate the strength of the economy under Trump, including wage growth and low unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics.

The other Trump spot won’t be released until it airs during the game, the campaign said. The president’s campaign sent “Official Trump Super Bowl Ad Blitz Fund” text messages to supporters, and said any contributions made over the next 24 hours would be triple-matched.

Bloomberg’s 60-second ad features a Texas mother who lost her son to gun violence. It shows Calandrian Simpson Kemp describing how her son, George Kemp Jr., had aspirations of playing professional football but was shot after an altercation in 2013 when he was 20 and didn’t survive. “Lives are being lost every day. It is a national crisis,” Kemp says in the ad.

Bloomberg, who helped launch Everytown for Gun Safety and backs candidates who support gun measures such as universal background checks, said in a statement he chose to focus on gun safety because it would be a top priority for him as president, and Kemp’s story shows “urgency of this issue and the failure of Washington to address it.”

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Trump’s ad is effective because it mentions low unemployment rates among blacks and Hispanics -- two groups he’s courting to expand his base -- and focuses on his accomplishments with impeachment still swirling, Republican consultant John Brabender said.

“It does say to some extent, ‘If you want to go ahead and criticize my methods and my style, you’re welcome to do that. But what you can’t criticize is the accomplishments I’ve achieved and the change you were looking for,”’ he said.

Bloomberg’s spot also is effective because it’s not a typical political ad and will connect with people emotionally, said Bob Shrum, a former Democratic consultant for presidential campaigns who now teaches political science at the University of Southern California. The ad will also resonate with Democrats who care about gun safety and black voters who will be key in Bloomberg’s strategy of focusing on states that vote March 3 on so-called Super Tuesday and beyond, he said.

“The vast majority of Democrats who vote in those Super Tuesday states are on his side on the gun-control issue,” Shrum said. “It evokes feelings in you. It’s not the kind of ad you just turn away from.”

Bloomberg is the biggest spender among campaigns with an unprecedented $289 million in expenditures so far, according to Advertising Analytics, which tracks political commercials. That includes $226 million spent on broadcast television, with $29 million of that amount spent on national buys. He’s also spent $15.7 million on cable, $3 million on radio and $44.3 million on digital.

Trump’s campaign has spent $25.8 million on ads since January 2019, including $14.4 million on broadcast. A joint fund-raising committee supporting him has spent an additional $24.7 million on digital ads.

Meanwhile, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser endorsed Bloomberg on Wednesday in part because of his position on guns. She appeared with him at an event Thursday, the campaign said.

(Updates with consultant comments from eighth paragraph)

--With assistance from Bill Allison.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mario Parker in Washington at mparker22@bloomberg.net;Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, Magan Crane

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