Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is hitting the television airways for the first time–a move which traditionally is seen as a significant next step for national political campaigns.
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Except, the Sanders’ campaign says their spot is not actually an ad but rather a a public service announcement produced in conjunction with Univision Colorado as part of a series of spots that network is putting together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, according to a Sanders campaign staffer.
The commercial, aired for the first time on Thursday in Denver and Colorado Springs on Spanish television networks Univision and UniMas, opens with a narration from the Sanders campaign political director Analilia Mejia and ends with a “PAID FOR BY BERNIE 2020” disclaimer.
The Sanders campaign staffer did not know if other candidates are involved in additional Univision Colorado PSA efforts.
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Bridget Bennett/The New York Times via Redux
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, arrives for a town hall event in Las Vegas, Sept. 14, 2019.
“I work for him because Senator Sanders believes in our community,” Mejia says in Spanish in the spot. “He understands that access to health care should be available to every human being. He understands that the access to education to every member of our community.”
A small buy of just $1,850 spanning two weeks, the new commercial comes on the heels of the Sanders campaign’s heightened efforts to court Hispanic voters — a group set to become the largest minority voting bloc this election cycle. The Vermont senator has been holding more Spanish-language focused events recently, including a Loteria Night earlier this month in Iowa City with the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latino civil rights organization in the U.S.
The campaign has also been hosting “Unidos con Bernie” events, featuring Spanish-speaking introductory speakers, with just another event of the series coming up next Tuesday in West Liberty, Iowa.
Sanders is one of the higher polling Democratic presidential hopefuls in terms of Hispanic voter support, topping his Democratic rivals in CNN’s September poll with 24% among Hispanic voters, though several other candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke were within the 8.4% margin of error.
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Sanders also hosted a massive pre-September debate rally in Denver earlier this year, drawing more than 10,000 supporters, accounting to the campaign, citing a private security firm for the event.
This PSA would mark an earlier jump into the airways for Sanders, who didn’t launched his $2 million first television ad campaign until November 2015 during first presidential campaign in the 2016 election cycle.
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign on Thursday also announced that the senator, who has been enjoying a strong grassroots base, has reached the 1 million donor milestone, becoming the fastest presidential candidate in U.S. history to do so.
So far, less than half of the 2020 Democratic field has invested in television air time, including billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has been blanketing airways with at least $11 million television ads in early primacy and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada since launching his campaign in July.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney had led the television ad war earlier this year until Steyer jumped in, and other Democratic hopefuls, including Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, have been zoning in on Iowa since after the state fair last month. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also launched his first television ad just on Tuesday.
With the focus on online campaign this election cycle, digital ad spending has dwarfed television ad spending in the 2020 presidential field. According to a new study of digital ad spending by the Wesleyan Media Project released on Thursday, presidential candidates’ digital ad spending on Facebook and Google has reached $60 million, including more than $16 million from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and its Republican Party-backed fundraising committee, and more than $6.6 million from Steyer.