In one case the attack is implicit, in the other explicit, but both Democratic nomination contenders have turned their rhetorical guns not on each other but on the leading Republican candidates. A new ad for Bernie Sanders titled “Bolder” mostly takes the high road, highlighting his own connections to New York and especially the Big Apple. However, the big ask at the end offers a reference that few will miss:
“New York what makes it think bigger? Go bolder? Push for a living wage that’s higher?” a narrator asks under pictures of subways, bridges, construction workers and children playing. “Tuition free public college. Justice that works for all. For a middle class that must be saved.” …
“New York values, forged in New York. Brooklyn born. Native son. Who knows what we know: we’re all in this together,” the 30 second spot concludes.
The ABC report certainly didn’t miss the dig at Ted Cruz, referring to the ad as Sanders’ “New York Values” spot in its headline. Cruz, who used that phrase as a derogatory reference to Donald Trump and may end up regretting a week from tomorrow, has come under constant fire from his New York-based Republican opponent for weeks on that point. Cruz claims that he meant the shot as a reference to Trump’s “limousine liberal” approach, but thus far New Yorkers aren’t buying it — and Sanders clearly wants to take advantage of Cruz’ affront.
While Sanders uses the oblique approach with Cruz and picks up Trump’s narrative, Hillary Clinton goes straight at Trump with her own ad in New York this week. Forget Bernie, the ad argues — only Hillary is “tough enough to stop Trump.” It gives a hint of what the general election will look like if it features the two front-runners:
The ad is an opening salvo by Clinton in a potential general election match-up against the Republican businessman. But it is also aimed at helping Clinton defeat Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a state that will be a pivotal contest in the Democratic primary.
The ad takes Trump to task for comments he made — then subsequently took back — saying that women should be “punished” for having abortions. It also singles out Trump’s labeling of Mexicans as “rapists” and his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
“Donald Trump says we can solve America’s problems by turning against each other,” Clinton says in the ad. “It’s wrong, and it goes against everything New York and America stand for.”
Well, okay, but so far Hillary hasn’t proven tough enough to put Bernie Sanders away. For the second straight presidential campaign, Hillary’s primacy has faced a serious challenge from a back-bencher in the Senate — only this time it’s not a talented orator with a claim on history, but a socialist crank offering gauzy promises of freebies with no realistic plan to pay for them. (Hey, wait a minute … maybe it’s not so dissimilar after all.) For that matter, Trump isn’t a lock for the nomination either, so Team Hillary might be firing at the wrong target. With Sanders on a long winning streak, this looks suspiciously like a way to change the subject away from Hillary’s own inability to inspire the Democratic electorate and frighten them into submission to her inevitability.
And that also gives us a pretty good look at Team Hillary’s general-election strategy, no matter who her Republican opponent turns out to be. Call it … the Animaniacs Strategy. It will produce the enthusiasm wave that this suggests, too: