Sanders rolls out seven-figure ad spot in Iowa

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption 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 John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage 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.

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“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 Anthony BookerRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter MORE and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' 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 ClintonVideo of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Ronan Farrow exposes how the media protect the powerful Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' MORE, Sanders now faces several challenges, including a chief ideological rival in the form of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Warren enters crucial debate with big momentum 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.