Democratic rivals take aim at billionaire Bloomberg
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg unveiled new ads aimed at boosting his standing with black Americans as his primary rivals attacked his record on race and his free-wheeling political spending.
This report produced by Zachary Goelman.
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg on Monday released two new TV ads aimed at portraying the billionaire and former New York City mayor as a champion for African Americans.
And the ads come as his rivals ramp up their attacks on Bloomberg specifically over his record on race.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AMY KLOBUCHAR, SAYING: "As for what Michael Bloomberg did, I- stop-and-frisk, that is unconstitutional." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BERNIE SANDERS, SAYING: "Racist policies like stop-and-frisk." Over the weekend Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota attacked Bloomberg over the New York City policing policy known as "stop and frisk," where officers patted down millions of predominately black and latino men, often with slim pretext, in pursuit of illegal firearms. Advocates for criminal justice reform said it landed thousands of people in jail, giving them lifelong criminal records for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and damaging trust between law enforcement and communities of color.
A federal judge declared the policy unconstitutional.
Last week Bloomberg's office in Youngstown, Ohio, was vandalized and spray painted with the words "stop and frisk," and "oligarch." In November, Bloomberg called the policy and mistake.
But he is struggling to shake the association.
The ads released Monday portray Bloomberg as an advocate for criminal justice reform, who worked to improve education and employment for black communities.
And he's paying big to get the message out.
Bloomberg has spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars of his own fortune so far, and earlier this month his campaign said he would double his spending nationwide.
While he takes his case to the airwaves, he's yet to make an appearance on a debate stage.
Bloomberg's late entry into the race meant he hasn't qualified yet for any of the Democratic debates.
His rivals say that means he's still untested.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AMY KLOBUCHAR, SAYING: "Where is he?
He just keeps running a bunch of ads.
He'll probably have more ads during your show in certain states than I'm on answering your questions.
[FLASH] I'm never going to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage.
The next nominating contest, the third so far in 2020, will be in Nevada.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg leads the race right now with 22 delegates.
Sanders is hot on his heels with 21.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is in third place with eight.
Nevada, and then South Carolina, are seen as key contests in the Democratic field because they have populations more diverse than the first two nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
Bloomberg won't be on the ballot until March 3, also known as Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold nominating contests.