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Story highlights

The spot is created by a little-known super PAC called the Fifty Second Street Fund

Hillary Clinton's campaign has similarly raised the specter of a Trump nuclear attack

Washington CNN —  

A new super PAC formed by former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is funding a dramatic ad warning that Donald Trump’s election could usher in an era of nuclear warfare and kill more people than live in Ohio’s largest city.

“One nuclear bomb can kill a million people. That’s more than all the men, women and children living in Columbus, Ohio,” says the ad, which debuted in that city and others in the state on Monday.

Mushroom clouds from nuclear bombs interrupt a quiet cloudless day and scenes of debris fill the screen – just before a clip of Trump questioning America’s reluctance to use the warheads.

“Why are we making them?” he says in a clip of an interview.

That’s when another explosion appears.

“Be careful who you vote for,” the text reads.

Bradley’s super PAC, the Fifty Second Street Fund, was created earlier this month. Its website contains nothing but the complete text of W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “September 1, 1939,” about the lead-up to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland on that date.

The group remained mysterious until Tuesday afternoon, when Bradley, the longtime former New Jersey senator and New York Knicks star who challenged Al Gore for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination, claimed credit.

Bradley defended on Thursday to CNN’s Jake Tapper that the ad was not an exaggeration.

“We have to ask ourselves: Who do we trust with our life?” he said. “He doesn’t have the experience or the ability to defuse a crisis diplomatically before it reaches nuclear level.”

The group has quickly bought over $800,000 in Ohio television advertising, according to advertising records, but its funding sources remained unclear until Thursday, when the group unveiled a list of heavyweights, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Hollywood executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Mellody Hobson.

Matt Henshon, a Boston-area lawyer and the treasurer of the group, has not responded to requests for comment.

It is not uncommon for super PACs to appear from nowhere late in the campaign season in order to take advantage of delayed donor disclosure laws. Any donation to a super PAC after this past Thursday will not be public until a month after Election Day.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has similarly raised the specter of a Trump nuclear attack, releasing an ad two weeks ago featuring concerns from a former nuclear missile launch officer. Both ads evoke the legendary “Daisy” spot produced by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign in 1964 against hardline Republican Barry Goldwater – and that ad similarly harkened back to the Auden poem.

“We must love one another,” the poem – roughly quoted by the narrator in the “Daisy” spot – goes, “or die.”