Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump both plan on paying up to $10m for duelling adverts during the upcoming Super Bowl, marking a pricey play for votes that is rarely seen in American electoral politics.
The ad slots have been confirmed by both campaigns as of Tuesday, with a spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign saying that the point is to rile the president up during the Miami game on 2 February.
“The biggest point is getting under Trump’s skin,” Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the Bloomberg campaign, told the New York Times.
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The two advert purchases — which will run a total of 120 seconds between the pair, and are likely to come early in the game — mark the start of what will undoubtedly turn into a major spending spree by candidates in the 2020 campaign, and illustrates the depth of Mr Trump’s war chest, which raised $463 million last year in a joint effort with the Republican National Committee.
“The president’s decision to stay aggressive and keep the campaign open after his first election gave us a huge head start on his re-election,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement, referring to the president’s announcement that he would run for president again on his first day in office. “Now 300 days out we are throttling up. The president has built an awesome, high-performance, omnichannel machine and it’s time to give it some gas.”
Mr Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, has been running an unusual campaign for president, after formally entering the contest late last year.
While many campaigns have taken the traditional route of focusing on early nominating states in the primary process like Iowa or New Hampshire, Mr Bloomberg is mostly choosing to ignore them. Instead, he is targeting the 14 delegate rich states that will vote on Super Tuesday, one month into the voting process.
In the process, and aided by his vast personal fortune, Mr Bloomberg has been setting political ad spending records, and has already spent around $170m on tv and digital advertising, according to the ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
The ad buys come following a pre-campaign promise from Mr Bloomberg to spend at least $100m on adverts criticising Mr Trump, which has now included attacks on the president’s record for what the Bloomberg campaign sees as broken political promises. Much of the online adverts so far have targeted Mr Trump on Facebook in general election swing states.
”The ad is part of Mike’s strategy of running a national campaign that focuses on states where the general election will be decided, parts of the country that are often overlooked,” Mr Frazier said of the Super Bowl advert.
As for the Super Bowl itself, it remains to be seen which of the eight teams teams still in contention will play in the annual championship, which this year will feature performances from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira during the game’s half-time show.