- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The battle for dominance in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is heating up on television in Iowa, where candidates are jockeying for the precious attention of viewers against a sea of ads for disco-themed retirement planning, custom-crafted dentures, baking supplies, street chicken tacos and other products and services.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden are vowing to lift the middle class. Sen. Bernard Sanders is promoting Iowa’s role in a clean energy revolution, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is promising to unify the nation.

Welcome to the air wars in Iowa, where the presidential campaigns, the national political parties, interest groups and members of Congress will be vying for airtime over the coming weeks and months ahead of their primary contests and the 2020 general election.

“I am ready to gather up an American majority that is hungry for change, that is done with division,” Mr. Buttigieg says in an ad he started running Tuesday that features footage from his speech last weekend to thousands of Iowa Democrats.

“We will fight when we must fight, but I will never allow us to get so wrapped up in the fighting that we start to think fighting is the point,” he says. “The point is what lies on the other side of the fight. The hope of an American experience defined not by exclusion but by belonging.”

Ms. Warren of Massachusetts strategically aired her first ad of the 2020 campaign during the third quarter of the recent football showdown between Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

She touts her Oklahoma upbringing and her belief that Americans are finding it harder to climb into the middle class.

“When we have a government that works for the rich and powerful and leaves everyone else behind, it is corruption, pure and simple,” Ms. Warren says in the ad, which then splices in footage from a campaign rally in New York City. “We must root it out and return our democracy to the people — and yes, I’ve got a plan for that.”

Watch enough TV, and you also are bound to catch an ad from President Trump, whose reelection team is embracing his brash image and boasting about his record of accomplishment on jobs, immigration and terrorism.

“The Democrats would rather focus on impeachment and phony investigations, ignoring the real issues, but that’s not stopping Donald Trump,” the narrator says in a Trump 2020 ad. “He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.”

Need to Impeach, meanwhile, is pressuring Sen. Joni Ernst, the Iowa Republican who is up for reelection, to support the impeachment push on Capitol Hill. The group was founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, a Democratic candidate who is blanketing the airwaves with ads.

“Tell Sen. Ernst it is time to put country over party,” a narrator says in the spot.

While some of the lower-tier contenders in the Democratic presidential race insist they have plenty of time to make their mark, the uptick in campaign commercials underscores the growing sense of urgency roughly 90 days away from the caucuses.

On Wednesday, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana got in on the action by rolling out a spot that highlights his victory in a state that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 and his record of delivering on “progressive” change.

Advertising Analytics has projected that $2.7 billion will be spent on television ads in 2020, including $971 million in the Democratic presidential primary — of which $232 million will be dumped into Iowa.

The race in Iowa, meanwhile, is intensifying.

The Real Clear Politics average of Iowa polls shows Ms. Warren has a 22% to 17% lead over Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders are not far behind, both registering about 15%.

In his “Scranton Values” ad, Mr. Biden says his mother taught him that “everyone should be treated with dignity” and that too many working-class families are losing ground.

“Today, too many middle-class and working-class people are not able to look their kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it is going to be OK,’ and mean it,” he says. “That is why I am running to rebuild the backbone of this country: the middle class.”

The narrator in the Sanders ad says the Vermont independent will “fight for us.”

“Only Bernie Sanders has a plan bold enough to confront the climate crisis and put Iowa first,” the narrator says.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also is running TV ads, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is running radio ads, according to Advertising Analytics.

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