Joe Biden is running a Super Bowl ad for the Iowa caucus

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden is hoping to score some votes during this Sunday’s Super Bowl. His campaign has purchased a 30-second slot to run an ad during the game in Iowa, where the first vote in the Democratic presidential primary is set to take place on Feb. 3, the day after the big game.

In the final days leading up to the Iowa caucus, the Democratic candidates have scheduled events all over the state. President Trump also joined in with a rally in Des Moines on Thursday evening. A spokesperson for the Biden campaign said the Super Bowl ad, which is titled “Character,” is aimed at drawing a stark contrast between Biden and Trump.

“As Donald Trump attempts to meddle in the Democratic primary process with an ad set to air the eve of the Iowa caucuses on Super Bowl Sunday, the Biden campaign will also air an ad to remind caucus goers of their responsibility to ensure we elect a candidate who is the polar opposite of Donald Trump and defeat him next November,” the spokesperson said.

While Biden is leading in national polls of the Democratic primary, he is trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the two states that are first to vote, Iowa and New Hampshire. In the final days leading up to the Iowa caucus, Biden has focused on Trump. On Thursday, he delivered a speech in Iowa where he criticized the president for telling “lie after lie after lie” and putting “self-interest” first. Biden also debuted a 60-second version of the “Character” ad on Thursday. The version of the ad that will appear during the Super Bowl in Iowa is half that long, but features the same message; it highlights differences between Biden and Trump and alludes to aspects of the former vice president’s biography including his close connection to President Barack Obama, Pennsylvania roots, and the loss of his son to cancer. The commercial begins with shots of the Oval Office and White House.

“It’s said, in here your character is revealed. We saw it with President Obama, we’re seeing it with President Trump,” a narrator says in the clip as it transitions to footage of Biden. “But it’s in life. Where your character is formed, where you’re from, who you love, what you’ve overcome, who you stand with, and who you fight for. Character matters maybe more here than anywhere.”

Biden’s Super Bowl ad is the latest salvo in a high priced political air war taking place during the game. On Thursday, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he purchased a 60-second Super Bowl ad that will air nationally highlighting his activism on gun control. Shortly after Bloomberg’s announcement, the Trump campaign revealed it would air two 30-second national ads during the campaign that would highlight the president’s record. One of Trump’s commercials will be premiering for the first time during the Super Bowl.

Both the Trump and Bloomberg campaigns spent $11 million for a minute of national Super Bowl ad time. Bloomberg, who is a billionaire, is using his personal fortune to bankroll a major campaign advertising blitz. The former mayor was a relatively late entry to the Democratic primary race and won’t be on the ballot in Iowa, but he’s hoping his unprecedented ad spending can help him win delegates in states later on the primary calendar that don’t traditionally see heavy campaign competition. Bloomberg hasn’t ruled out spending $1 billion on his effort and has already purchased over $275 million in ads. Trump, who began running for re-election the day after he took office in 2017, has amassed a historically large campaign war chest that his campaign expects to reach $1 billion.

Biden, whose campaign has raised over $36 million, doesn’t have the resources of Bloomberg or Trump. He has also trailed his top Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, in fundraising. While Trump and Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ads will air nationally, Biden’s is running in Iowa’s two largest markets, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Biden’s campaign did not disclose the cost of the Iowa Super Bowl ad, but noted he has spent over $4 million on a multiplatform ad campaign in the state since November.

The Super Bowl is regularly the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S. and the high-priced commercials that play during the action are widely discussed before and after the game. For the presidential campaigns, Super Bowl ads provide an opportunity to capture eyeballs and a piece of this extended conversation. This year’s Super Bowl should be particularly popular in Iowa since the state doesn’t have an NFL team of its own and many residents back the Kansas City Chiefs, who play nearby and are set to take on the San Francisco 49ers.