Since launching his nascent presidential campaign in November, Michael Bloomberg has mostly concentrated his massive, multi-million-dollar juggernaut on attacking President Trump and his record, rather than his Democratic primary rivals.
But on Monday, one day after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused the three-time New York City mayor of trying to buy the presidential election, Bloomberg launched a new ad tearing into supporters of the self-avowed democratic socialist.
The 53-second ad highlighted critical messages and memes that Sanders' supporters have shared online, as well as insults that they've lobbed at other presidential candidates.
"Yes, Pete has always been a demonic rat," one tweet reads, including a photograph of Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor.
"Libs who are flirting with Bloomberg now should be aware that they are going on lists," another tweet reads. "Next time they pretend to care about racism or sexual harassment or really anything other than money and power, we will remember what they are were doing right now and we will remind everyone."
The last tweet in question is from Feb. 14, the same week that Bloomberg came under fire for two separate resurfaced audio clips that revealed the 77-year-old billionaire defending "stop and frisk," the controversial policing strategy that disproportionately targeted men of color, and blaming the end of "redlining," a discriminatory policy that cut off certain neighborhoods and potential homebuyers from mortgage lending opportunities for the financial crisis.
Bloomberg’s ad features Sanders touting the importance of civil discourse -- "It is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse," he said -- before cutting to an all-black screen: "Really? Really."
The loyalty that Sanders commands has transformed his anti-establishment campaign into a fundraising powerhouse, boosting him to first place nationally in an average of polls published by RealClearPolitics on the heels of his victory in New Hampshire and tie with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa. Those same polls show Bloomberg in third.
But Sanders has faced escalating criticism from rivals for his support base; during his first presidential run in 2015, his followers were notoriously dubbed "Bernie Bros" in an article by Robinson Meyer that ran in The Atlantic. Meyer has since said he regrets coining the term, which he felt suffered from "semantic drift."
According to a recent analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks money in elections, Sanders has raised the most money from women since he announced his presidential campaign, with at least 40 percent of his funds stemming from women.
Bloomberg could appear on the debate stage for the first time this week, after the Democratic National Committee changed its qualifying rules to drop the requirement that a candidate must ascertain a certain number of unique donors, prompting complaints from his 2020 rivals.