Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) slammed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday after reports emerged that the billionaire businessman purchased a $30 million ad buy that may be airing as soon as early next week.
“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,” Sanders said in a statement. “It’s just the latest example of a rigged political system that we are going to change when we’re in the White House.”
“If you can’t build grassroots support for your candidacy, you have no business running for president.” he continued. “The American people are sick and tired of the power of billionaires, and I suspect they won’t react well to someone trying to buy an election.”
Sanders’ remarks were in reference to news that Bloomberg would be spending $31.5 million on one week’s worth of advertisements, making it the most expensive ad buy of any candidate ever in a single week. The ads are scheduled to air in nearly 100 local markets as well as some cable channels nationwide.
Bloomberg, however, has not yet officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the presidency and advisers close to him contend that he still has not made a final decision on the move. While he filed an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday, and previously filed to run as a candidate in Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas, advisors downplayed the filings as just another step in the direction of a potential bid.
Sanders, a noted Democratic Socialist, has, in part, centered his campaign on disavowing wealthy Americans, so the line of attack against Bloomberg, who has an estimated net worth of more than $50 billion, is not surprising. The Vermont lawmaker subsequently blasted fundraising emails to raising money off of Bloomberg’s high-priced ticket item.
“Mike Bloomberg is spending $30 million on TV ads next week to try and make himself president. That is the biggest-ever political TV ad buy in history. And it is surely just a drop in the bucket for him,” Sanders’ campaign said in an email to supporters. “The truth is this: If you can’t build grassroots support for your candidacy, you have no business running for president.”
“I am asking you today to show Mike Bloomberg, the corporate media, and the rest of the billionaire class a fundamental truth,” the email continued. “The only way to win this election is with a grassroots movement built by the working class. The best way to prove them wrong is by generating as many individual contributions as we can for our campaign this weekend.”
Sanders’ campaign has been generating massive donations. He even recently set a record, surpassing 4 million donations sooner than any other candidate in history. His support, however, has been relatively stagnant and he has been consistently polling behind former Vice President Joe Biden nationally and vying for the second place spot with his progressive counterpart, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).