Former Obama aides say Bloomberg's 'jarring' ads mislead voters about his relationship with the former president

michael bloomberg

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run for president.

  • Michael Bloomberg has run ads linking him to President Obama that feature photos of the two politicians together and clips of Obama praising the former mayor.
  • But some former Obama aides say the ads are "jarring" and misleadingly imply Obama has endorsed Bloomberg, when he has not.
  • "They certainly weren't best buds," Obama's former senior advisor David Axelrod told the Wall Street Journal.
  • Obama has declined to endorse in the 2020 Democratic primary, but some Democrats like Joe Biden and  Bloomberg have still tried to draw a connection with the popular former president as they jockey for voters.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President Barack Obama has declined to endorse in the 2020 Democratic primary, though several White House hopefuls have sought his advice. That hasn't stopped candidates, like his former Vice President Joe Biden, from touting their connections to the popular Democrat.

But Michael Bloomberg's latest ads are raising eyebrows among Obama administration alumni, who say the spots mislead viewers into thinking the former president has endorsed him. 

Bloomberg's new 30-second video entitled "Difference" strings together photos of the two politicians and several clips of Obama praising Bloomberg in an effort to appeal Obama's supporters in the Democratic electorate.

That advertisement, as well as the similar "Steady Leadership" that debuted in early February, feature swelling music, soaring praise, and photos of two politicians side by side. But it doesn't paint an entirely accurate picture of Bloomberg and Obama's relationship, former top aides say.

"They certainly weren't best buds," Obama's former senior advisor David Axelrod told the Wall Street Journal. "It does speak to the power of Obama with Democrats. Everyone wants to have an ad like this."

He elaborated in a tweet, writing that "Biden and Warren have run similarly suggestive Obama ads, but they were Obama appointees and had considerably less money to run them so they made less of a ripple."

 

In "Difference," Obama's voiceover is heard praising Bloomberg for his "extraordinary leadership."

"He's been a leader throughout the country for the past 12 years, Mr. Michael Bloomberg,"  Obama says in a clip from October 2013. 

Superimposed text declares that "Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama worked together."

"A great president, and an effective mayor. Leadership that makes a difference," a narrator says. 

"It's jarring to see all these Bloomberg ads that suggest Obama has endorsed him, especially considering how...perfunctory his endorsement of Obama was back in 2012," Pod Save America host and former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor tweeted on Tuedsay.

"Perfunctory is putting it kindly," Vietor's Pod Save America colleague and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau replied.

Meanwhile, MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell, who worked on Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, tweeted on Tuesday that she "heard a Bloomberg radio ad in the car today and it makes it sound like Obama is ENDORSING him which Obama DID NOT DO. "

"It's super gross imo," Maxwell wrote. "Sorry."

Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York City and an independent, did not endorse Obama in 2012 until days before the general election. In the wake of the devastating Superstorm Sandy, which decimated New York and New Jersey in late October, Bloomberg finally threw his support behind the incumbent, citing climate change as a key reason for his endorsement.

The advertisements appear to be making an impression. 

Axelrod told the Wall Street Journal that political operatives had called him recently, asking if his former boss had endorsed Bloomberg.

"The saturation level of media that Bloomberg is running penetrates in a way that the others have not," he said.

Bloomberg has already spent more money on advertising than Obama did during his entire 2012 campaign, dropping $338.7 million on television, radio, and digital ads. 

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