Highlighting his message that "people are sick and tired of establishment politics" and casting himself as the only presidential candidate from either major party offering the "real change" that a majority of Americans are now seeking, Bernie Sanders released his campaign's first ever television ad on Sunday in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
The minute-long ad features a voice-over cataloging his lifetime record of "fighting injustice and inequality" that began during the anti-war and civil rights struggles of the 1960s and continues today as he takes aim at "Wall Street and a corrupt political system" while demanding action on climate change, a green energy jobs program, living wages and equal pay for workers, and tuition-free higher education for all.
"Thousands of Americans have come out to see Bernie speak and we've seen a great response to his message," said Jeff Weaver, the campaign's manager. "This ad marks the next phase of this campaign. We're bringing that message directly to the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire."
The campaign spot represents a $2 million outlay and comes as Sanders continues to trail Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Iowa while enjoying a sizeable lead in New Hampshire. As the Boston Globe notes, the ad is made possible by "the $25 million pile of cash sitting in his campaign bank account." The campaign has been remarkable for its ability to compete financially with Clinton—who enjoys the backing of elite interests, political action committees, and a well-established fundraising infrastructure— even as Sanders has relied almost exclusively on relatively small donations from many hundreds of thousands of individual donors.
As CNN put it, "The ad buy is a significant step for a campaign that started with a shoestring budget, though now the democratic socialist has a strong fundraising operation."
At a political rally on Halloween in New Hampshire on Saturday, Sanders told an overflow crowd in the town of Warner that his progressive policy ideas are neither "Utopian" nor "pie-in-the-sky" proposals. "Virtually everything that I am talking about," he said, "is supported by the vast majority of the American people, and virtually everything that I’m talking about, and my hopes and dreams for America, are being done in one or another country around the world."
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While in New Hampshire, Sanders received the endorsement of three state labor, including the American Postal Workers Union in New Hampshire, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 490, and the Service Employees International Union Local 560 in Hanover.
Explaining why organized workers are backing his campaign in large numbers, Sanders said it's because they "understand that at a time when the middle class of this country continues to disappear, we need an economy that works for the middle class and not just the top 1 percent."
As Common Dreams reported last week, in the wake of the recent televised Democratic debate on October 13, the Sanders campaign has been trying to expand the candidate's base of support by making increasingly sharp distinctions between his record and that of Clinton.
And as the Globe reports on Sunday:
As the Democratic contest has become essentially a two-way race heading into the final three months before voting begins, Sanders is trying to move beyond his core audience while also keeping his base revved up.
Though national polls show the odds are against him, and his senior staff acknowledges that Clinton is finding her footing, the Sanders campaign is readying for combat.
According to potential Democratic primary voter John Conant, who got his first up-close look at Sanders during the event in New Hampshire on Saturday, hearing from the candidate was an "energizing" experience. "He pushed a lot of my buttons in the right way," Conant told USA Today. "I was very impressed that he seems to be a very well-spoken, educated person. He’s not talking down to us and went through a number of the issues, actually said some things, didn’t just rabble rouse."