05 tom steyer town hall
Steyer knocks Buttigieg as he explains poor showing in Iowa
01:40 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Businessman Tom Steyer struck at former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a new ad launched Thursday, the first explicitly negative ad his campaign has aired against his Democratic presidential rivals.

In the ad, a narrator warns viewers that “we simply cannot afford to nominate another insider,” over clips of Biden, “or an untested newcomer who doesn’t have the experience to beat Trump on the economy,” over clips of Buttigieg.

The spot later features Steyer saying President Donald Trump is “running on the idea that Democrats can’t grow an economy, are a bunch of socialists” – an oblique shot at another of Steyer’s rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who calls himself a democratic socialist.

The ad also references the Senate’s vote Wednesday to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, including a clip of a floor speech by Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, who announced he would vote to convict the President.

“If we don’t do something different this time around, he’ll win again. That’s the hard truth,” the narrator says.

The 60-second spot began airing in the Boston media market, which overlaps with New Hampshire, on Thursday afternoon, according to Kantar Media/CMAG. Steyer has a total of $8 million in airtime booked for this week, including $1.2 million in New Hampshire, just days from that state’s primary contest on Tuesday.

Steyer has spent more than $170 million on advertising during his campaign, powered by his personal fortune of roughly $1.6 billion.

Steyer’s aggressive ad spending – dwarfing the entire Democratic field’s spending combined, excluding Steyer’s fellow billionaire, Michael Bloomberg – has prompted sharp criticism from his rivals. Sanders has commented that “I’m a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power,” while Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who dropped out of the race in January, accused Steyer of “buy[ing]” his appearances on the primary debate stages.

Steyer has responded to the criticism, saying he’s less well known than his rivals and needs to get his message out.

“I have something that I believe I need to say. And I believe that that message will succeed or fail based on its values. But my question about how much do I care about this? I don’t think there’s a limit to how much I care about this,” he told reporters in California last November.