Mike Bloomberg buys 3-minute primetime ad on CBS, NBC to address coronavirus outbreak

Key Points
  • Mike Bloomberg bought three minutes of prime time on CBS and NBC to deliver taped about the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • He and his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have cast President Donald Trump as unprepared to respond to the crisis. 
  • The move shows Bloomberg's financial might as he has already spent more than $500 million on his presidential campaign.
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S. February 12, 2020.
Doug Strickland | Reuters

White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg bought three minutes of network TV time to deliver remarks about the coronavirus outbreak Sunday night as he tries to contrast his leadership style from President Donald Trump's. 

The former New York mayor's campaign will run a three-minute taped address on CBS and NBC at about 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, it said Saturday. The purchase from the billionaire businessman, who has already spent more than $500 million on his campaign, shows the reach his wealth gives him as 2020 Democratic candidates criticize the president's response to the global crisis. 

In his pre-recorded remarks, Bloomberg highlights the drubbing financial markets took this week as fears about coronavirus rose. He casts himself as a steady leader prepared for the outbreak by his experience with crises in the country's largest city.

"At times like this it is the job of the president to reassure the public that he or she is taking all the necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of every citizen," Bloomberg says in the video against a background that evokes a White House setting. 

It was not immediately clear how much it cost his campaign to buy time on the networks. 

The Trump campaign ripped Bloomberg over the ad and defended Trump's response to the outbreak.

"President Trump is effectively managing the coronavirus situation and has placed the United States ahead of the curve in its comprehensive response," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. "Mike Bloomberg is shamelessly politicizing the issue and only further exposing himself as an unserious candidate. He's a joke."

The White House hopeful's move follows news of the first U.S. coronavirus death in Washington state. Speaking from the White House on Saturday, Trump aimed to soothe fears about the outbreak and his administration's actions to contain it. 

The president fueled new concerns about his ability to handle the crisis during a campaign rally Friday night. He accused Democrats of "politicizing the coronavirus" and suggested they are using it to hurt him. 

"This is their new hoax," he said, deploying language he used during special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

The Bloomberg ad will run two days before Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold their primaries. He will appear on ballots for the first time on a day when more than a third of all national delegates will be awarded. 

Bloomberg skipped the first four nominating contests and instead gambled on using his wealth to build support in the states that will vote Tuesday.

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