Bloomberg releases new TV ads touting commitment to racial justice amid scrutiny of record

Politics

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is set to release two new television ads Monday highlighting the former New York mayor’s commitment to addressing the challenges facing people of color.

These new ads come just one week after audio from 2015 surfaced where Bloomberg is heard describing the controversial “stop and frisk” policy as a way to reduce violence by throwing minority kids “up against the walls and frisk them” and days after his comments from 2008 resurfaced in which he said at the height of the housing crisis in 2008 that getting rid of “redlining,” the biased housing practice that stopped banks from providing mortgages in low-income, largely minority neighborhoods, was to blame for the collapse.

The first ad, which is titled “Justice,” focuses on Bloomberg’s commitment to improving the juvenile justice system and highlights his experience as mayor. Highlighted in the ad is a New York man named Abdul, a community organizer who got involved with The Young Men’s Initiative — an effort in New York City under Bloomberg’s leadership that intended to tackle discrepancies that slowed the advancement of black and Latino young men.

The second ad is titled “Greenwood” and discusses Bloomberg’s plan for economic justice. Last month, Bloomberg traveled to the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma — formerly known as “Black Wall Street” before it was destroyed in a 1921 riot and massacre — to unveil his “Greenwood Initiative” plan, which his campaign says will address the bias that has kept American Americans from gaining wealth in the US.

“For hundreds of years, America systematically stole black lives, black freedom, and black labor, and I know my story would have turned out very differently if I had been black,” Bloomberg says in the ad. “The wealth gap is inextricably linked to the racial inequalities of the past, and I’m determined to make breaking that links a centerpiece of my presidency.

Since the release last week of the audio from a Bloomberg speech at the Aspen Institute in 2015, the Bloomberg campaign has been working to dispel any renewed concerns about Bloomberg’s use of stop and frisk during his time as mayor.

Bloomberg has apologized for his role in implementing the controversial police practice that allowed officers to detain a person on any type of vague suspicion, search that individual without a warrant and arrest the person if any kind of illegal substance or weapon was found.

On Thursday, Bloomberg traveled to Houston, where he was endorsed by Mayor Sylvester Turner and launched “Mike for Black America” at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Earlier in the week, Bloomberg was endorsed by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus — Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York and Rep. Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands.

Bloomberg announced his presidential campaign less than three months ago and the billionaire has already spent more than $400 million on advertisements, according to Kantar Media/CMAG. He added more than $30 million to his spending on Sunday, adding to reservations over the next three weeks, including the current week.

Previous ads released by the campaign highlight the former mayor’s relationship with former President Barack Obama and attack current President Donald Trump.

Many of Bloomberg’s Democratic opponents have been critical of his ad spending as he rises in the polls.

“I don’t think you should be able to hide behind airwaves and huge ad buys. He has to come on these shows,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday. “And I also am an advocate for him coming on the debate stage. I know I’m not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage because I believe my argument for my candidacy is so much stronger.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden told NBC on Sunday that “the point is that $60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record.”

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