Sanders rolls out seven-figure ad spot in Iowa

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows - Russia standoff over Ukraine dominates Sanders says Biden can't count on him to support 'almost any' spending package compromise Sanders says Republicans are 'laughing all the way to Election Day' MORE (I-Vt.) placed the first television ad buy of his 2020 presidential campaign on Tuesday, a seven-figure spot in Iowa that casts the senator as a “fighter” capable of taking on President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE

The campaign is dropping $1.3 million to air the ad in the Hawkeye State over the next two weeks, Sanders’s campaign said. Two versions of the ad — a 30-second and 60-second version — will hit the airwaves on Thursday.


“Whether it was Wall Street, the drug companies or other powerful special interests, Bernie has taken them on for us,” a narrator says in the ad, before turning the attention to President Trump.

“Now, our country is at a turning point,” it continues. “A dangerous demagogue tearing our nation apart, hard-working people betrayed by Trump, a health care system that makes enormous profits for drug and insurance companies, and a planet on the brink of a climate disaster. In this moment, we need a fighter. Bernie Sanders.”

The ad rollout in the crucial first caucus state came as Sanders’s campaign announced a staggering $25.3 million fundraising haul for the third quarter of the year, the most announced by any candidate in the Democratic primary contest so far. He also transferred an additional $2.6 million from other campaign accounts.

Only two other candidates, Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDespite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over Small ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Airlines suspend US flights in response to 5G deployment AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports MORE, have publicly announced their third-quarter fundraising totals. Booker’s campaign said he raised more than $6 million over the past three months, while Buttigieg raked in $19.1 million in the same time frame.

Sanders’s fundraising announcement and the subsequent ad rollout suggest that he’s looking to quash the narrative that his campaign is in decline. 

Several recent polls have shown his support slipping nationally and in critical early primary and caucus states. Meanwhile, campaign shake-ups in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the presidential nominating contest, have fueled speculation of internal turmoil. 

Indeed, Sanders’s foray into paid television advertising is coming earlier this cycle than it did during his first presidential bid, when he waited until November 2015 to go on the air. But unlike that cycle, when he cast himself as a progressive foil to the eventual Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE, Sanders now faces several challenges, including a chief ideological rival in the form of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (D-Mass.).

The upcoming TV ad campaign in Iowa largely tacks with the themes of economic and social inequality that have been ubiquitous in Sanders’s campaign; it references his efforts to take on the financial services industry and pharmaceutical giants.

But it opens with a quote from Sanders, recalling how “living in a family that struggled economically powerfully influenced my life and my values.” The Vermont senator has addressed his upbringing and family life infrequently on the campaign trail, despite urgings by some allies, who have argued that he needs to do more to personalize his candidacy.