Bernie Sanders is earning huge praise for a series of ads painting him as an advocate for the voiceless, part of a strategy that could help the Vermont Senator achieve a breakthrough with a very important demographic.
Sanders had just scored a resounding victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary when his camp released a new ad on the power of standing together.
“When we stand together — white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight, woman, and man — when we stand together and demand that this country works for all of us rather than the few, we will transform America,” Sanders said. “That is what this campaign is about, bringing people together.”
As Tablet noted, the ad was in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s political ads which focus mainly on her.
“Compare this to that of Sanders’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. One of her first national ads is mostly Clinton herself, much the same as Bernie’s. She begins her ad with the word ‘I,’ says it four more times, and ends the ad with chants of ‘Hillary.’ In the ad she aims to prove her legitimacy as a presidential candidate; if elected, she would work for you ‘no matter who you are…’ That the same-ish stump messaging as Sanders, but with the change happening through her, rather than via the empowerment of her voters.”
Tablet writer Jonathan Zalman added that Sanders has drawn a sharp contrast to Clinton.
“Now look, I’ve no dog in this fight—yet. This is merely a pop comparison of two ads. But as Sanders continues his rise in the polls, which should make Clinton sweat, it might be time for her campaign to carve out a better and perhaps less self-centered narrative, and work it through a new ad as they re-boot.”
Bernie Sanders is also using his ads to address one of his biggest weaknesses to date. So far Clinton has dominated with non-white voters, and though Sanders is beginning to make up some ground, there is still a long way to go.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) February 12, 2016
Sanders has been able to garner a few influential endorsements from the black community, but is also taking a more direct approach thanks to a new campaign video featuring civil rights activist Erica Garner.
Erica Garner’s father, Eric Garner, was killed in 2004 in an altercation with a white police officer in New York City. Video of the killing made national headlines, showing the officer putting a seemingly non-combatant Garner in a chokehold and not letting go even as Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” 11 times.
“There’s no other person that’s speaking about this,” Erica says in the ad. “We need a president that’s going to talk about it.”
While Hillary Clinton has the support of a number of other activists — including the mother of Trayvon Martin — Sanders appears to be making headway with black voters thanks to his new ads and stronger messaging aimed at his own history fighting for civil rights.
“If I asked a Republican candidate about Black Lives Matter, they wouldn’t care,” Justin Sewell, a black college student who attended Sanders’s rally in South Carolina, told the Washington Post (via the Christian Science Monitor). “If I asked Hillary, she’d just say what’s convenient. I believe [Sanders] really cares.”
While it’s too early to tell how much effect the new ads may be having for Bernie Sanders, he is undoubtedly seizing the momentum in the Democratic primary. After Clinton once held a lead of more than 20 points in national polls, Sanders has closed to bring the race into a virtual tie heading into the Nevada caucus and South Carolina primary.
[Image via YouTube]