The OTT Candidate

“He’s essentially run an unopposed, over-the-top campaign,” Democratic strategistJoel Payne quipped on Wednesday morning in anticipation of Mike Bloomberg making his first appearance in a Democratic debate.

Payne’s observation should seem obvious to any media buyer, political or otherwise, because Bloomberg has effectively bypassed the normal political campaign process, including the inevitable media shakeout spin that happens in the early caucuses and primaries, even if they don’t account for much in actual delegates.

It’s a smart strategy if you can do it, but the truth is, no one has ever executed it to the degree Bloomberg has, or likely will going forward, mainly because budget is no concern.

And even though the incumbent President’s 2016 race could have been called an OTT one, it was mainly done via earned media, not actual advertising and media buys.



So the big question is whether there is anything wrong with this?

"You know, Mr. Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for President of the United States," rival Bernie Sanders said during a “town hall” hosted by CNN Tuesday night, adding, “He's an American citizen. But I don't think he has the right to buy this election."

Why not? And why is it worse to “buy an election” with your own money than with money raised by donors, which Sanders has raised the most from to date?

If the issue is capping the amount of money candidates can spend on their campaigns, legislators like Sanders should work on legislation to do that. Otherwise, it’s a free marketplace, and at the very least, Bloomberg is being the most transparent candidate in terms of where his campaign financing is coming from: money he earned himself.

Ironically, even if he fails to win the nomination, Bloomberg has pledged to use it to back the Democratic candidate. Even if it's Bernie Sanders.

3 comments about "The OTT Candidate".
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  1. Peter Rosenwald from Consult Partners, February 20, 2020 at 9:34 a.m.


    Why can't the public get beyond focussing on Bloomberg's wealth and explore his other qualities? Is it just jealousy? Is it fear?

    He certainly wasn't the noisiest participant in last night's debate and he did seem uncomfortable with the attacks on him. His is certainly not perfect.

    But don't we need an experienced, mature and honest president to try and undue the Trumpian disaster?  

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, February 20, 2020 at 9:42 a.m.

    @Peter Rosenwald: Personally, I wouldn't count Bloomberg out, because of last night's debate. I think Warren will get a bump for going after him, but I don't think we'll see Bloomberg slide much if at all. He's much like the incumbent President in the sense that the people who support him have already bought into those issues and accept him for what he is. But if Bloomberg continues to take hits in future debates, I think it could begin to wear on that. I'm not sure why he didn't push back more about how he has used his own money to back Democratic causes, gun control, etc. I thought the one time he did that was incredibly effective.

    This will be an intersting primary/nomination process to watch.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 20, 2020 at 11:31 a.m.

    For the record without stating a support for anyone: The difference between buying an election from you own sources vs donations is that the donators are sort of voting with their wallets - support of many vs support of one like a self coronation on an unequal playing field. It is not that Bloomberg or anyone shouldn't be allowed to run (age, citizenship, etc.). In 1769, no one imagined anything like this. Citizens United, a false nomenclature, makes the Circus Maximus relevant for all elections.

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