- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Michael R. Bloomberg is pouring about $15 million into Texas and Ohio to boost Democrat Joseph R. Biden in the final stretch of the race, trying to signal that the GOP-leaning states are competitive for Democrats as Mr. Biden looks for alternate paths to the presidency.

Mr. Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is going on the air with TV ads in the two states starting Wednesday that will remain up through Election Day.

The ads will focus in part on President Trump’s “mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis,” according to a spokesperson. The Texas ads will be in both English and Spanish, and the Ohio ads will also focus on Mr. Biden’s plans for the economy.

“Mike Bloomberg asked to see polling on the race across multiple states and based on seeing our polling results Monday, gave the go-ahead to invest additional money to support Joe Biden in Ohio and Texas,” the spokesperson said.

Mr. Trump easily carried Ohio and Texas in 2016, but Democrats think the states are in play.

Mr. Bloomberg had previously committed to spending $100 million in Florida on behalf of Mr. Biden.

Mr. Bloomberg spent about $1 billion on his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He dropped out of the race shortly after a poor showing in the Super Tuesday contests in March and then endorsed Mr. Biden.

The new spending is a sign of confidence that Democrats can deliver a “knockout punch,” said party strategist Brad Bannon.

“Since he is already spending $100 million in Florida, he can afford to fill a vacuum in Texas and Ohio to run up the score in states where Biden is dark on TV,” he said.

Mr. Bannon said TV ads for presidential candidates anywhere are of “questionable value” with many voters’ choices already solidified but that Mr. Bloomberg has “money to burn.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, another unsuccessful 2020 presidential candidate, said this week that his state is Mr. Biden’s to lose.

Texas hasn’t gone Democratic in a presidential race since 1976, and statewide hopes for the party have risen in recent years only to die on Election Day — including for Mr. O’Rourke in his unsuccessful 2018 bid to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

The former vice president and his team are taking a more cautious approach.

Mr. Biden said this week he has “a shot” at winning Texas.

“We have 17 battleground states across the country. We’re not losing focus on securing the many pathways to 270,” he told NBC 5 TV in Texas. “I feel good about Texas.”

Mr. Trump’s team said Mr. Biden essentially forfeited any chance at winning states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania when he said in last week’s presidential debate that he wants to “transition” the U.S. away from the fossil fuel industry.

Mr. Biden said afterward he wants to wind down federal subsidies for oil companies, not put the industry itself out of business.

“They don’t need those subsidies,” he said. “We should be investing that in research and development on carbon capture and a whole range of other things.”

Mr. Trump’s team signaled this week that they’re not worried about keeping Ohio and Texas in the Republican column.

The Trump campaign announced Monday that it was moving senior adviser Bob Paduchik from Ohio to Pennsylvania as a signal of growing confidence in holding Ohio.

The campaign has also downplayed Mr. Biden’s prospects in Texas and said unequivocally that Mr. Trump will carry Florida.

“He’s going to be in battleground states,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who served as energy secretary under Mr. Trump, told reporters this week. “Texas is not a battleground state. It’s that simple.”

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris is set to campaign in Texas on Friday after stops this week in Nevada and Arizona.

Mr. Trump leads Mr. Biden by about 3 percentage points in the latest Real Clear Politics average on Texas and the two candidates are close to neck-and-neck in Ohio and Florida.

Mr. Bloomberg is also planning to put an additional $20 million into down-ballot races in Texas, Arizona and North Carolina, including the lieutenant governor’s race in North Carolina.

Mr. Bannon called the down-ballot investment a “wise expenditure.”

“TV ads give visibility to lesser-known progressive candidates with a chance to beat Republicans in what appears to be a good Democratic year,” he said.

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