Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will release a tough new television ad critical of Goldman Sachs’ role in the financial meltdown and use of speaking fees as he ramps up criticism of Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street.
The 30-second ad, circulated Thursday ahead of its scheduled Friday release, makes no mention of Clinton, who received more than $600,000 in speaking fees from the Wall Street firm. But it comes amid a push by Sanders to make policing the financial sector central to his presidential campaign. Its release falls within days of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
“How does Wall Street get away from it? Millions in campaign contributions and speaking fees,” the ad says, describing Goldman Sachs’ recent $5 billion settlement from its role in the financial crisis. “Our economy works for Wall Street because it’s rigged by Wall Street and that’s the problem.”
“As long as Washington is bought and paid for we can’t build an economy that works for people,” the narrator says.
Sanders only appears at the end of the ad to approve the message. But he has driven a similar message in recent weeks, seeking to capitalize on concerns by Democrats that Wall Street has become too influential in the nation’s economy and political system.
He noted Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speaking fees during the last presidential debate in South Carolina and during a stop in Mason City on Wednesday night, Sanders told supporters that Clinton was raising money at a Philadelphia investment firm while he was campaigning with Iowans.
Clinton’s campaign has accused Sanders of breaking his pledge not to run negative advertising. The campaign released a pre-emptive statement from its Iowa campaign director, Matt Paul, who called it a “last minute sneak attack from the Sanders campaign.”
“It’s a cynical political ploy in a primary that had until recently been characterized by a respectful back-and-forth about the issues, and it’s not one that’s going to go over well with Iowans,” Paul said.
The campaigns have had feisty exchanges over ads as Iowa’s leadoff contest nears. A new Clinton ad airing in Iowa says she would build upon President Barack Obama’s health care law, “not start over,” and defend Planned Parenthood, “not attack it,” messages that reinforce charges she has made against Sanders during the campaign. In a statement, Sanders said the ad “completely distorts my record.”
Sanders is trying to upset Clinton in Iowa, where her advantage has narrowed in recent, weeks and then take advantage of his edge in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary on Feb. 9. The senator said Thursday he feels cautiously optimistic about his chances to win the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.
“My gut feeling is this is a very, very close election here in Iowa,” he said at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast briefing in Des Moines. “We will win if the turnout is large. If the turnout is not large, we’re going to be struggling.”
Sanders, who’s made running a positive campaign a central message, left the door open to drawing a sharper contrast with Clinton in the final days before voting begins.
“Do I plan on running more contrast ads? I don’t think we do. But that’s something we’re still talking about,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sanders released his medical history Thursday — something he had vowed to do before Iowa’s leadoff caucus. The records indicate he is in “overall very good health.”
A one-page letter released by Sanders’ campaign said the 74-year-old Vermont senator had been treated in the past for ailments like gout, high cholesterol and laryngitis. He underwent hernia surgery earlier this year but is in good health, his doctor said.
“You are in overall very good health and active in your professional work, and recreational lifestyle without limitation,” wrote Sanders’ doctor, Brian Monahan, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress. He wrote that he has treated Sanders for 26 years.
If elected, Sanders would be the oldest president to assume office, surpassing Ronald Reagan who was 69 when he entered the White House. Sanders is about six years older than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who released her medical records in July. Her doctor said at the time she was in “excellent physical condition.”