Bloomberg's launches 1st presidential TV ad, part of historic $37 million buy

Michael Bloomberg continues to inch closer toward a formal announcement.

November 24, 2019, 9:12 AM

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who legally jumped into the presidential race Thursday after filing official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, is making a pricey entrance with an eight-figure television ad campaign with advertisements promoting his bio and taking direct aim at President Trump.

In a first ad, captured by Kantar/CMAG and which aired in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday night, the ad narrator says, "He could’ve just been the middle-class kid who made good, but Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good."

"And now, he’s taking on him (Trump) -- to rebuild the country and restore faith in the dream that defines us where the wealthy will pay more in taxes, and the middle-class get their fair share," the ad continues.

In the ad, Bloomberg is already positioning himself in the moderate lane of the field, differentiating his stance on health care from the more progressive wing. "Everyone without health insurance can get it, and everyone who likes theirs, keep it," the narrator says.

The ads are backed by a massive buy -- ad service firm CMAG confirmed to ABC News that Bloomberg is spending at least $37 million in ad buys in multiple states across the country, including California, New York, Florida, Texas and Illinois. Some of ads are set to air on national networks as early as Sunday, and most of the other ads will run on local broadcasts beginning Monday.

In those states, he is set to spend about $29.3 million in local broadcasts, including $2.3 million in New York City, $1.9 million in Los Angeles, $1.2 million in Houston and at least $7 million on national air time. The numbers are expected to go up as more ad buy records are reported and will span 10 days, according to CMAG.

While Bloomberg has not officially announced his campaign, the ad closes with the tagline, "Jobs creator, leader, problem solver. Mike Bloomberg for President."

It is unclear how many different types of ads Bloomberg will be rolling out. According to ad buy records filed to the Federal Communications Commission, some of the local broadcast ads will be 60 seconds long and will mention Trump, similar to the one that aired. Those local broadcast ads are expected to air Nov. 25 through Dec. 3.

Bloomberg's first presidential campaign ad buy surpasses a record previously held by Hillary Clinton, who spent $33.7 million on TV ads in the last week of her 2016 general election campaign, according to CMAG Senior Analyst Mitchell West.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former New York City mayor, eats lunch with Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. after adding his name to the Democratic primary ballot in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 12, 2019.
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters, FILE

"It's pretty remarkable that we have to look at the last week of a general election to compare with this ad buy," West told ABC News. For the primary election, this is undoubtedly the single biggest ad buy in history, West added.

Bloomberg's first ad buy already was more than half of the $50 million the entire 2020 Democratic presidential field has spent on television so far this year, according to CMAG's data. Nearly $40 million of that came from billionaire activist Tom Steyer since he entered the race in July. Democratic front-runners Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have aired about $2.8 million and $2.4 million worth of television ads.

On the Republican side, Trump has spent about $4.7 million on television, which brings the total for 2020's ad spending up to about $55 million.

A spokesperson for Bloomberg declined to comment when reached by ABC News.

The ad buy swiftly triggered harsh criticism from some in the Democratic field, including Sanders, who's running on a platform targeting the country's wealthiest and the influence of money in politics.

"I'm a little old-fashioned. I believe in democracy -- one person, one vote," he said in a statement. "I'm disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections. It's just the latest example of a rigged political system that we are going to change when we're in the White House."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., too, argued that voters want "something different" than "another wealthy person" occupying the White House.

"I am not going to be able to compete with the money of Bloomberg or Steyer," she said. "But I literally believe people want something different, another wealthy person in the white house."

"You can't just run ads and then go back to where you live. You've got to be out there day after day after day," she added.

The ad buy injects Bloomberg into the presidential contest, despite his team remaining adamant he has not made a final decision and is not formally a player in the race, just yet.

But Bloomberg continues to inch closer towards a formal announcement and is expected to self-fund his presidential campaign.

His wait-and-see approach isn't stopping him from pouring millions into the 2020 race. Digital ads targeting Trump for his behavior, such as his "tantrums" and "lies," started running on Facebook recently.

While the ads -- part of a staggering $100 million digital ad blitz first reported by the New York Times -- don't feature Bloomberg, they showed the disclaimer "paid for by Mike Bloomberg 2020" and directed users to a sign-up page that urges them to "join the fight."

Bloomberg also plans to spend between an estimated $15 million and $20 million on a voter registration effort to challenge President Trump in five key battlegrounds that could define the outcome of next year's election.

Following his $100 million digital campaign targeting Trump's behavior, a spokesperson for Bloomberg confirms that the former mayor of New York City will roll out a new push to register half a million Democratically-leaning, minority and underrepresented voters, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians, rural Americans and the youth voting bloc, in early 2020 .

The new drive will kick off across Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin but could expand into other states.

The Associated Press first reported the new registration effort.

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