Two billionaires are running in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman Tom Steyer. Both of them, especially Bloomberg, have completely altered the dynamics of the race by spending an unprecedented amount of money on advertisement campaigns.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who represents the state of South Carolina, appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the two billionaires’ chances of winning the Democratic nomination, according to The Hill. Speaking with State of the Union host Dana Bash, Clyburn opined that money “will always make a difference.”
“I’ve always said money is the mother’s milk of politics. He has money and he has been spending it, I think that will always make a difference,” the congressman said of Steyer, who has risen to third place in South Carolina polling, despite failing to win a single national delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire.
Steyer spent $16.4 million on ads in Iowa and $19.8 million in New Hampshire. He won zero percent of the vote in Iowa and 4 percent of the vote in the Granite State.
“Where was Bloomberg nationally among voters a month ago?” Clyburn asked of the former New York City mayor, pointing out that national polling suggests that the former Republican has already surpassed a number of established politicians by simply blanketing the airwaves with ads.
“But he has money, he has been spending it, and he’s changed the calculations,” Clyburn continued.
“For us to just pretend money doesn’t make a difference what would be fool hearted. Money makes [a] difference. Steyer has it[,] he’s been spending and he’s reaping the rewards.”
Clyburn also said that he will not publicly endorse a candidate before the South Carolina primary, noting that he will support a candidate he believes in, regardless of whether they win in his state or not.
“I would never pass my support upon whether or not I think that person would win the state,” the top Democrat concluded.
Michael Bloomberg's campaign has now crossed $350 million in ad spending. We created this chart to show how much $$$ he is spending. His rise in the polls = proof of the power of TV advertising? pic.twitter.com/GOoqDdOYnv— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 9, 2020
Bloomberg is not on the ballot in South Carolina, but Steyer is, and he appears to be doing well. According to latest polling, Steyer is in third place, behind Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. According to reports, the billionaire has invested resources in South Carolina, where he is winning over local activists and officials.
As for Bloomberg, he is skipping the early states, focusing on Super Tuesday states instead. The former mayor’s rise in the polls has caught the attention of his rivals, who are now beginning to criticize his problematic record.
On Saturday, Sanders — who is the national frontrunner — blasted Bloomberg for pushing “racist” policies, including stop-and-frisk, and for suggesting that laws that ended red-lining are to blame for the 2008 financial crisis.