Booker’s campaign announced early Thursday that their ad is specifically targeting viewers tuning into the debate and will be seen in 22 TV markets across the country, including the four early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, as well as in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
In the 30-second spot titled ‘Together,’ Booker jokes “how long are these things? 30 seconds? Are you sure we can afford this?”
The candidate – who has struggled with fundraising and is hovering in the low single digits in most polling - then spotlights that “you're only gonna see this ad once because I'm not a billionaire. I won't be on tonight's debate stage, but that's okay because I'm going to win this election anyway.”
“This election isn't about who can spend the most, or who slings the most mud. It's about the people. It's about all of us, standing together, fighting together. Not just to beat Donald Trump, but to bring about the transformative change we need,” he adds.
Only 7 of the roughly 15 remaining Democratic White House hopefuls qualified for Thursday’s sixth round debate. They are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Booker reached the individual donor qualifying criteria set by the Democratic National Committee, but was far short of reaching the polling threshold. Thursday’s debate is the first for which he’s failed to qualify.
On Saturday, Booker spearheaded a letter to the DNC asking the national party committee to "consider alternative debate qualification standards" for four nomination debates scheduled in January and February in the early voting sates.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who besides Booker is the other remaining black candidate in the nomination race, also failed to qualify for the debate. A third black candidate - Sen. Kamala Harris of California – qualified for the debate but ended her White House bid earlier this month. Former Housing Secy. Julian Castro, the only Latino candidate in the field, also failed to qualify. Yang – who’s Asian-American - is the only non-white candidate to qualify.
Booker - in his letter - argued that the higher thresholds have “unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history.”
The letter, which was co-signed by all seven candidates who will appear in the debate, appeared to receive a frosty reception by the DNC, which has yet to reveal the qualifying thresholds for the January and February primary showdowns.
While Booker's commercial runs on TV, the candidate will be in Iowa Thursday night, kicking off a five day swing through the state that leads off the presidential nominating calendar.