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OpEd: Bloomberg is wasting millions of dollars on a doomed campaign


Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg gives the thumbs up as he embarks on his bus after speaking to supporters at the Viva Villa restaurant in San Antonio, Texas on January 11, 2020.

Mark Felix | AFP | Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has already spent more than $200 million on his presidential bid.

Somebody call the cops, I want to report a robbery. Because whoever is taking Bloomberg’s money is committing the heist of the century.

Let’s start with where most of that money has gone: TV ads. I know I’ve seen at least a dozen of Bloomberg’s TV ads so far, but don’t ask me to tell you what they say exactly. It’s amazing that someone who follows campaign messages as closely as I have for years can’t really remember any key details of any of these expensive ads. I think I remember a nurse talking in one of them, but that’s about it. There have been no memorable slogans, no real energy. They’re like wallpaper.

We’ve also just learned that Bloomberg will be spending $10 million for an ad on the ultimate media stage: The Super Bowl. But it could be a very tough platform for the softer spoken Bloomberg in a sea of the most aggressive commercials playing during a game that celebrates brash and aggressive men bashing each other’s heads in.

But even if you think Bloomberg’s milquetoast campaign ads aren’t a problem, then what can anyone say in defense of his campaign’s apparent incompetence in other areas?

When he officially entered the race, it was too late for Bloomberg to file and run in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. But there was plenty of time to file for the Nevada caucus, and his campaign didn’t get the papers filed by the January 1 deadline. It’s possible Bloomberg is bypassing Nevada on purpose. But with money not being an object, it’s hard to think of a plausible reason why.

Of course, no one needs to shed any tears for the money Bloomberg is losing. With a net worth of $57 billion, he could spend $1 million a day on his campaign every day for the next 156 years before he runs out of money.

If this is a plausible strategy, it doesn’t seem to be working. You may have seen some reports of Bloomberg climbing a bit in the polls, but it’s all relative to his starting point of zero. More importantly, a new report citing internal polling from opposing Democratic campaigns says Bloomberg is still not on a pace to pick up even one delegate from the 15 states set to hold primaries on March 3.

That could change of course, but we know Bloomberg won’t be getting any momentum from the states holding primaries and caucuses before March 3 where he isn’t even running. The positive coverage the winners of those early contests receive is simply more valuable than flooding the airwaves with ads, especially ads that may not be effective or memorable.

Now there’s a prevailing theory we’ve heard from some circles that Bloomberg really doesn’t want to win the nomination. This theory explains that by running and using his own money he can promote an anti-Trump message without following the strict campaign finance laws he’d have to adhere to if he were funding another candidate.

That theory seems pretty far-fetched on its face. But even if it’s true, is there really a need for more anti-Trump messaging on the airwaves?

More than 93% of the TV news coverage is already anti-Trump, according to the conservative Media Research Center, the entertainment media provides more of the same, and there are still more than ten Democrats and even two other Republicans running for president providing a steady stream of anti-Trump rhetoric. There are just 24 hours in each day; how much more anti-Trump messaging can the American public consume?

Of course, no one needs to shed any tears for the money Bloomberg is losing. With a net worth of $57 billion, he could spend $1 million a day on his campaign every day for the next 156 years before he runs out of money.

But that doesn’t excuse the people like Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey. Sheekey has been working for Mike Bloomberg in various lobbying and government affairs roles since 1997. Prior to that he worked for the late Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and was the campaign manager for Moynihan’s final successful re-election bid in 1994. With that kind of experience, Sheekey should know better and be doing better.

So should the Bloomberg campaign’s chief communication’s officer Jason Schechter. He has many years of experience directing top corporate ad campaigns, and before that he was an assistant press secretary in the Clinton administration.

Given what we know so far, it’s extremely hard not to write the Bloomberg campaign off as a vanity project — perhaps the most extreme political vanity project in American history — but a vanity project all the same. One has to wonder if Bloomberg is spending so much money so ineffectively now, what kind of president would he make anyway?

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

Source: Commentary