Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's $10 million 2020 Super Bowl ad includes a misleading statistic concerning the number of children killed in violent gun-related crimes, and inaccurately suggests that an adult victim of gun crime in Texas was a child, Fox News has found.
In the raw and emotional one-minute spot, Calandrian Simpson Kemp recalls her son's death: "On a Friday morning, George was shot. George didn't survive. I just kept saying, 'You cannot tell me that the child that I gave birth to, is no longer here.' Lives are being lost every day. It is a national crisis."
A statistic immediately appears on the screen: "2,900 CHILDREN DIE FROM GUN VIOLENCE EVERY YEAR." The number is not attributed to any source.
However, a recent report from the Bloomberg-founded group Everytown for Gun Safety came up with that same number -- but only when it included teenagers ages 18 and 19 in the calculation. While the Everytown report makes clear its statistics include both "children & teens," Bloomberg's advertisement makes no mention of older teenagers and suggests that the statistic is referring to children only. Washington Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski found that once adults were removed from the calculation, the number dropped by nearly half.
Additionally, court documents from a Texas state appellate court reviewed by Fox News show that the victim referenced in the advertisement, George Kemp, was 20 years old at the time of his death.
"On September 26, 2013, just before midnight, the police received a dispatch for shots fired," the court wrote in its opinion, which denied an attempt to throw out evidence in the case. "When they arrived, they discovered a deceased male, later identified as George Kemp, age 20, lying face down in a pool of blood."
The court said the case arose from a "gang-related shooting," writing that "two groups of young men" had met that night "for a fight," including a group led by "B. Dilworth, which included ... Kemp."
Those details were not disclosed in Bloomberg's advertisement.
“It is regrettable but not surprising that salient facts didn’t make the ad," Amy Hunter, director of media relations at the National Rifle Association (NRA), told Fox News. "Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda. Bloomberg pushes for confiscation of guns and stripping regular Americans of our right to self-defense while he enjoys armed security 24/7. He sees America as his kingdom, and the rest of us as his peasants."
Reached by Fox News Saturday afternoon, the Bloomberg campaign defended the commercial's language.
“Ask any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child," Bloomberg spokesperson Julie Wood told Fox News. "There are simply too many of these deaths, and Mike has a plan to prevent them with common-sense gun safety laws.”
Bloomberg’s ad will air following the halftime show on Sunday.
“When I heard Mike was stepping into the ring, I thought, ‘Now we have a dog in the fight,’” the mother says in the advertisement. “Mike’s fighting for every child. Because you have a right to live. No one has a right to take your hopes and dreams.”
Bloomberg is a longtime backer of what he calls “common-sense” gun legislation and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since his time as New York City mayor to combat gun violence, including founding Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which eventually merged with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
In 2013, he founded Everytown for Gun Safety, which has worked to pass gun control legislation, and in 2018, he spent $110 million to elect candidates who support gun safety in the midterm elections.
"Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda."
Bloomberg's gun-rights push has occasionally hit public stumbles. In the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Bloomberg suggested in a televised interview that he did not know the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms, that hunters should only be allowed to possess guns with "three bullet" chambers, and that the Second Amendment should protect only hunting rights.
"If it can fire a lot of bullets very quickly, that's a good definition -- a good place to start," Bloomberg had said, when asked to define an assault weapon. "And then you can argue what a 'lot is.' Let's pick it. Let's say three [bullets]. If you haven't hit the deer with three shots, you're a pretty lousy shot. That deer deserves to get away. Let's get serious here."
He added, before being corrected by the interviewer: "Pistols are different. You have to pull the trigger each time. An assault weapon, you basically hold the trigger, it goes [and fires continuously]."
Simpson Kemp told The Associated Press that she first met Bloomberg in 2015 and was drawn to him because he was proposing solutions.
“When you have lost a child -- when you have actually opened the earth and put your child in a hole and closed it up -- you don’t have time to wait and play,” she said Wednesday. “This is urgent. And I knew Mike Bloomberg had a plan and had a plan that we can get behind.”
She will be attending the game Sunday on a ticket Bloomberg gave her. “When I walk into that stadium and sit in that seat,” Simpson Kemp said, she’ll be able to “tell my son that he made it. Indirectly, he has made it.”
While an ad featuring a grieving mother might seem out of place alongside spots advertising beer and sedans, Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said the goal was to “make people take notice” and try to start a conversation about the issue during a rare day when so many Americans come together to watch something “and actually watch the ads and talk about the ads.”
“It’s not about selling corn chips and beer. It is a serious ad about an issue that I think the country does care about and should care about,” Bloomberg said during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” this week.
Bloomberg’s decision to buy the Super Bowl time is just the latest in his tit for tat with President Trump, whose campaign has bought a 30-second ad during the big game.
The candidates, who have been trading barbs since Bloomberg’s late decision to enter the race, both have near-limitless money to spend. Trump’s campaign has set fundraising records, with $46 million raised in the last quarter of 2019 alone. Bloomberg, a billionaire who is self-funding his bid for the White House, had already spent more than $225 million on television and digital advertisements as of mid-January, according to the tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
During his late-night interview, Jimmy Fallon observed that Bloomberg seemed to be getting under Trump’s skin with his nonstop television presence.
“Well, I sure hope so,” Bloomberg said. “I’m trying.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.