Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders launched the first TV ad of his campaign this past weekend.
The Sanders campaign says the goal of this ad is to highlight some serious issue differences between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The first ad buy in Iowa and New Hampshire will cost the Sanders campaign over $2 million. The message is part biographical.
"The son of a Polish immigrant, who grew up in a Brooklyn tenement, he went to public schools, then college where the work of his life began: fighting injustice and inequality, speaking truth to power,” says the female voice narrating the video.
It then pivots to a series of Congressional issues that have become the hallmark of the Sanders campaign:
"He stood up for working families and for principle, opposing the Iraq war, supporting veterans. Now he's taking on Wall Street and a corrupt political system."
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, says the ad marks the beginning of a new phase of the campaign: It highlights Sanders’ vote against the Iraq War and Clinton's support for it.
"When you have two people, both in the Senate, who listened to all of the evidence, who listened to [President George W.] Bush, listened to [Vice President Dick] Cheney, who listened to [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld, who heard the intelligence report, one of those candidates … didn't believe it and voted against the war,” Weaver says. “That was Bernie Sanders."
Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who is a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign in Vermont, says Clinton has acknowledged that her Iraq vote was a mistake. But Kunin says Clinton's vast experience as secretary of state overshadows Sanders' foreign policy experience.
"I think she knows the global landscape, where the hot spots are, who's in charge,” Kunin says. “You can't imitate that experience by coming out and still pushing that old button of the Iraq vote.”
The Sanders campaign is also highlighting Clinton's support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 and Sanders’ strong opposition to it. The law defined marriage as a bond between a man and a woman.
Kunin says Clinton's view on this issue has evolved over the years, as is true of many Americans.
"I don't think it makes a difference whether you stood for that position in 1996 or 2015. The important thing is what you're saying now and what you will do as president,” Kunin says.
But Weaver says Sanders’ strong early opposition to DOMA is important.
"Whoever becomes president will ultimately face a lot of issues that people can't even conceive of today,” Weaver says. “And so the point is, when the going gets tough, who will people have confidence in? Who will people be able to rely on to stand with them?”
Weaver says Sanders plans to raise many of these issue differences at the second Democratic presidential candidates debate on Nov. 14.