AMES, Iowa — Businessman Andrew Yang cast skepticism on the recent massive ad buys by billionaire Democratic rivals Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer Thursday morning.
“I’m less upset than some of the other candidates at Tom and Mike spending all this money because I think it’s going to be a dud,” Yang told a small gaggle of reporters riding aboard his campaign bus through central Iowa.
Other candidates, such as Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., have been more critical of Bloomberg’s and Steyer’s $164 million ad blitz to date. To put this figure in perspective, the rest of the Democratic field has spent only $28.3 million combined. Yang, however, offered a measured response.
“There are diminishing returns on ad buys. Eventually, the money’s like pushing on a spring, and the incremental advertising becomes more irritating than informative,” he said. “This has been demonstrated again and again — self-funded candidates have a very poor track record. I do not think this cycle is running any differently.”
Yang, who qualified this week for the Dec. 19 Democratic debate, will be the only person of color onstage that night. Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and philanthropist, edged out Booker and qualified for December’s debate in Los Angeles despite announcing several months after the legislator. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who similarly did not qualify for the debate, recently aired similar grievances.
“Ten months in Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is jumping in the race to use his personal fortune to try and buy the nomination,” Castro wrote in a fundraising email. “We don’t need another ego-driven billionaire flooding the airwaves. We know your support isn’t for sale.”
Recent polling shows that Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is catching on with some voters in early states — though that fervor is not reflected nationwide. Yang is polling a few percentage points higher than both Bloomberg and Steyer, according to averages compiled by RealClearPolitics.
Yang stopped short of calling billionaires immoral, explaining that it wouldn’t be prudent to criticize someone like Steyer for spending his personal fortune on the effort to combat climate change, though he conceded that he understood overall criticism. Still, Yang said, he finds the general trend a “symptom of how messed up things have gotten.
“I don’t foresee either of them making it to the top of the polls,” he said of Steyer and Bloomberg. “So I think this is something of a political science experiment, but I’m not concerned about either of them buying the election.”
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