NY Mayor Bloomberg speaks Spanish! (Who knew?)
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed May 18 12:01:39 UTC 2005
>>From the NYTimes, May 18, 2005
First of Bloomberg's Ads, in Spanish, Stress City's Recovery
By JIM RUTENBERG
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday unleashed the first wave of what
promises to be one of the biggest and most expensive political advertising
campaigns in New York City history. The first two commercials suggest the
dominant themes for his re-election campaign: the safety of New York City,
its recovery from the 9/11 attacks and his efforts to improve the city
schools. In an unusually early start for a New York mayoral campaign, the
first batch of television ads showed the mayor using his newly learned
Spanish to appeal to Hispanic voters, a traditional base of Fernando
Ferrer, the Democrat whom Bloomberg campaign aides expect the mayor to
face in the fall. Mr. Ferrer is of Puerto Rican descent.
Those ads are to be followed today by English-language commercials that
seek to portray the city's recovery from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack
under the mayor's leadership. Taken together, the ads underscore the
personal buying power of Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who has indicated
that he is willing to spend whatever it takes to win re-election
The more than $1 million Mr. Bloomberg spent for his first 10 days of
advertisements exceeds the combined spending by his four chief Democratic
opponents in the last two months, and Democrats say they expect it to be
just the beginning of an advertising barrage. The amount is also nearly a
fifth of what the city's campaign finance laws allow his challengers to
spend on all campaign activities between now and Primary Day, Sept. 13.
Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, is not accepting public matching funds and
therefore faces no spending limits, and his advertisements are as
carefully produced as any from last year's presidential campaigns. Unlike
many of those ads, they are relentlessly positive in their tone, with
messages reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" campaign in
1984, which stressed the nation's return from the economic brink. In one
of Mr. Bloomberg's ads, an announcer says in Spanish, "In the last four
years we have come a long way through high winds and rough seas," a
reference to the aftermath of 9/11. Mr. Bloomberg, who has studied Spanish
for a few years, then says into the camera, "Porque somos Neoyorquinos"
("because we are New Yorkers") before the announcer goes on to say, again
in Spanish, "Today we are experiencing an economic renaissance in all five
boroughs, and New York is considered one of the safest cities in the
Both ads - one 30 seconds, the other 60 - are replete with images of
construction sites, the city's skyline, Mr. Bloomberg mingling with
students and their parents, police officers walking the beat or, in one
shot, arresting a man (a shot that features two white wrists being
handcuffed). People who have seen the spots that are to appear on major
English-language television stations today said they would more directly
address the recovery from Sept. 11, with help from two former mayors,
Edward I. Koch and Rudolph W. Giuliani, and from other New Yorkers.
The spots, those people said, seek to tell the story about the state of
the city now as compared to when Mr. Bloomberg took office, when smoke was
still rising from ground zero.
The ads point to the city's recovery, as well as promote the sort of
meat-and-potato issues that Mr. Bloomberg's aides believe are most
attractive to voters this year: his efforts to overhaul the schools, the
city's job growth, and the continued drop in crime.
"It's the beginning of a telling of a story, a good story," said William
T. Cunningham, a senior adviser to the mayor's campaign. "It's fact-based,
it's based on everything that New York has come through over the last
three and a half years, and it's time to put it out there. Let the voters
see the rationale for the mayor's re-election."
The mayor's political aides have long stated a goal of promoting his
record in ways that leave his opponents with little to run on. Even though
recent polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College showed Mr.
Bloomberg pulling ahead of the Democratic field, they also show him with
an approval rating below 50 percent, a danger zone for any incumbent, let
alone a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.
By advertising now, Mr. Bloomberg is putting his record in the best
possible light months before his Democratic opponents are likely to
advertise in any substantial way. That huge advantage may be somewhat
dampened by anti-stadium advertisements that question his priorities when
the city has other needs.
Democrats tried to build on that theme yesterday, arguing that his high
spending on the advertisements was offensive and that the city economy was
not quite as rosy as depicted in the spots shown yesterday, especially
among black and Hispanic residents.
"Bad policies are bad policies in any language, and Mike Bloomberg's
policies are indefensible no matter how many millions of dollars he
spends," Mr. Ferrer said in a statement.
Joseph Mercurio, an adviser to the Manhattan borough president, C.
Virginia Fields, the only black candidate in the Democratic field, said
that when it came to boasts about job growth, "black and Hispanic voters
say 'not in our neighborhood' - they don't see it."
Mr. Bloomberg's decision to aim his first ads at Hispanics seemed to take
Democrats by surprise yesterday because it is a segment of the electorate
that is expected to go fairly solidly to Mr. Ferrer if he becomes the
But Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant who has worked with several of
the members of Mr. Bloomberg's team, defended the move.
"He made a calculated decision to talk to Hispanics with two objectives,"
he said. "One, to pick up votes because he needs them, and two, to make
everyone understand that he speaks to all New Yorkers. Therefore, he's
really not the out-of-touch person that the polling data portrays him as."
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