“He’s going to beat Trump — which is what they all say — he will raises taxes on the wealthy and increase payments to the middle class, and he will lower prices on health care, and change their payments,” Hamm recounted as he headed home from seventh grade on Wednesday.
With his ubiquitous $558 million advertising campaign, the former New York mayor and billionaire assembled an odd and electorally deficient coalition that included children inundated with his spots on YouTube, suddenly enthralled — or at least intrigued — by the spry-looking man who said he would get it done. Bloomberg has vowed to keep spending through November in hopes of defeating President Trump.
“I’m really seeing the ads when I’m watching YouTube, and I’m just seeing these ads that are telling me all these things about him,” said Matthew Foley, 8, a Silver Spring third-grader. “I learned that he’s going to end the war on science, and he’s going to help kids with asthma — and I have asthma.”
And from Joshua Chapin, 9, a fourth-grader in Highland Township, Mich.: “He was the mayor of New York City since Sept. 11, and I also know that he is paying a ton of money to get a ton of ads.”
Chapin, who said he usually saw the mayor’s ads while watching videos on YouTube, added that he also picked up “a few things” about Trump along the way. “Like there was this one ad where it had three different things that Trump had promised at the beginning of his career, but then ended up breaking the promise,” Chapin said.
Bryan Chapin, Joshua’s father, said that he and his wife had been talking about the Democratic primary when his son just jumped in — “but the only one he knew was Bloomberg.”
Chapin, a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), added, “I was kind of surprised that he actually knew who Bloomberg was — surprised and irritated, but that’s just my personal opinion.”
One recent video shared by a California-based political reporter showed elementary schoolchildren in Oakland surrounding California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), and shouting, “Are you running for president? Are you Mike Bloomberg?” — as if they have adopted Bloomberg as their totem for all white men with aspirations of higher office.
Heather Foley, 8-year-old Matthew’s mom, said that not only was her son inspired by Bloomberg — “All of a sudden he was very passionate about it; Mike’s going to do all these things, he’s not going to build the wall” — but his friends, too, picked up on the craze.
“And then all the other kids are talking about it, like he’s this big hero coming to save them,” said Foley, a supporter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Julia Burger, 13, and Josh Burger, 12, siblings in Tuscon, said they were generally irked by Bloomberg’s ads, which they also experienced mainly on YouTube.
“I have a limited amount of screen time and I normally spend it on YouTube, and most every other ad has been about Mike Bloomberg, and it’s a little annoying because, yes, they are skippable, but I’ve seen the same things a lot,” said Josh Burger, who usually watches gaming or Rubik’s Cube channels.
Josh said he is generally a Trump supporter — “I don’t want to offend anyone,” he added quickly — and is most familiar with just three candidates: Bloomberg, Sanders and the president.
He expressed skepticism about some of the content of the Bloomberg spots.
“The only thing I’ve really learned is that in some of his ads he says he was the mayor after 9/11, and I’ve heard from other sources that he wasn’t, so I don’t think he’s being truthful in his ads, but I could be wrong,” Josh said.
His sister, Julia, summed up her Bloomberg impressions more succinctly: “I learned that he is in the Democratic primary elections, and I also learned that he’s very annoying.”
The former New York mayor is not the only politician whose television commercials and digital ads have saturated the market. In 2012, Jim Messina, who was managing President Obama’s reelection campaign, shared at a news forum an anecdote that he had heard from an Obama supporter who had a 3-year-old in Denver about the trickle-down effect of the president’s ads.
“They were pointing to the TV and they said to the 3-year-old, ‘Hey, who’s that?’ And the 3-year-old said, ‘Barack Obama,’ ” Messina said. “And he said, ‘That’s right. Well, what does he do?’ And the 3-year-old looked at his dad all excited and said, ‘He approves this message.’ ”
The Bloomberg team, for its part, offered an optimistic outlook on the durability of his message. Hours after Bloomberg dropped out, Stu Loeser, a campaign spokesman, said he hoped the mayor’s catchy “Mike Will Get It Done” slogan would inspire future generations of politicos.
“A hell of a lot of people who work in politics today got their start singing ‘I’m just a bill, sitting on Capitol Hill,’ ” Loeser said in a text message. “So 20 or 30 years from now, when you see reporters and debate moderators demanding of candidates ‘but what did you actually get done in office,’ we’ll know where it comes from.”
Hamm, the seventh-grader, said that while he wasn’t personally a fan of Bloomberg, he is likely to remember him.
“Probably [because of] his ads, and he just left a mark when he dropped out, really,” said Hamm, son of Amy Walter, the national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Indeed, such is Bloomberg’s marketing power that it even trickled into the echelons of Trumpworld. Kelly Sadler, the communications director for America First, the official pro-Trump super PAC, recalled putting her twin 8-year-old boys — Lucas and Marcus — to bed one night, when Lucas told her, out of the blue, “Mom, you want to know something? Mike can get it done.”
“I thought he was talking about a kid in his class — a high achiever or something or a friend — and then Marcus, the other twin, was like, ‘No mom, it’s Michael Bloomberg!”
But Marcus, she said, knowing she works on behalf of the president and sensitive to her loyalties, added, “But mom, we know Trump is getting it done.”
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