COLUMBIA, S.C. – In a billionaire-to-billionaire media matchup, Tom Steyer is taking on Mike Bloomberg in a multimillion-dollar Super Tuesday ad buy, accusing the former New York City mayor of “racist” policies including “redlining” and the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactic.
The 60-second spot is a seven-figure buy that launches Monday in the states that vote on March 3. It pulls from 2008 video of the then-mayor describing a discriminatory housing practice known as redlining, the elimination of which he has said instigated the financial meltdown.
“Congress and other elected officials intervened, saying, ‘Oh, that’s not fair. People should be able to get credit,'” Bloomberg says in the ad video.
The term redlining comes from the “red lines” that those in the financial industry would draw on a map to denote areas deemed ineligible for credit, frequently based on race.
The move by the Steyer campaign is an attempt to land a direct hit on Bloomberg in the first states in which he'll be competing. Bloomberg skipped the early voting states in an unconventional campaign approach that instead focuses on the Super Tuesday states. Flooding the airwaves with hundreds of millions of dollars in ads, Bloomberg has spent recent days courting black voters whose support will be crucial to winning the Democratic nomination. He took a campaign swing through the South last week.
The Bloomberg campaign didn't immediately comment on the ad buy.
The spot also carries audio that surfaced last week from a 2015 Aspen Institute appearance, at which Bloomberg made an overall defense of his support for the stop-and-frisk policing tactic that has been found to disproportionately affect minorities.
“They are male, minorities, 16 to 25,” Bloomberg is heard saying, adding that “you can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops.”
“Those policies were racist, and Mike Bloomberg was wrong to support them,” a narrator says, then spins to a positive spot highlighting Steyer as “a president for all of America" and promoting his focus on “social, economic and climate justice.”
Bloomberg launched his presidential bid late last year with an apology for his support for stop and frisk. On redlining, a campaign spokesman said last week that Bloomberg “attacked predatory lending” as mayor and, if elected president, has a plan to “help a million more Black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis.”
Steyer, too, has saturated states throughout the country with ads for months, but has focused primarily on the need to oust President Donald Trump from office. He has focused much of his effort in Nevada and South Carolina on issues he sees as crucial to nonwhite voters. Steyer has also maintained a presence in the Super Tuesday states, with online and broadcast advertising.
Despite his focus on Nevada, however, Steyer didn't qualify to make the debate stage there Wednesday night — the first one to feature Bloomberg.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
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