Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democratic candidates lean on Obama in TV ads

Democratic candidates on the debate stage

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/ Getty Images

Former President Obama has refrained from endorsing any of the Democratic primary candidates, but that hasn't stopped a slew of the 2020 contenders from invoking the president's image in their campaign ads, Politico reports.

Why it matters: “It’s the perfect visual validation. Voters can recognize Barack Obama in a nano-second,” Eric Jaye, Democratic political consultant told Politico. “Obama might as well be on Mt. Rushmore for Democrats. It’s so powerful and instantaneous.”

The state of play: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, billionaires Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have all aired ads depicting Obama.

  • Five new ads featuring Obama aired the week of the Iowa caucus in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, per Politico.
  • Most of the ads show Obama mentioning the candidates by name, while others just flash a photo of the 44th president.
  • Biden was the first candidate to highlight his relationship with Obama. One ad uses audio from when Obama awarded Biden the Medal of Freedom.
  • Bloomberg paid more than $1.2 million to have his Obama TV ad air in over 70 markets — more than any other candidate, Politico notes.

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