RALEIGH, N.C. – With a pair of tough new television ads that debuted Friday, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping to hammer home the same anti-trade message in North Carolina and Illinois that was part of his winning message this week in Michigan.
The spots accuse rival Hillary Clinton of having “flip-flopped on trade deals,” employing some of the strongest rhetoric to date from a candidate who has pledged not to run negative ads. Clinton is not mentioned by name but is referred to as Sanders’s “opponent.”
“While his opponent has flip-flopped on trade deals, Bernie has fought them and stood with American workers,” the spot running in North Carolina says. “He’ll take on Wall Street and their trade deals because he doesn’t take their money.”
In the run-up to Tuesday’s primary in Michigan, which the senator from Vermont narrowly won after trailing by double digits in the polls, he relentlessly sought to contrast his stance on trade with that of Clinton. Among other things, Sanders frequently cited Clinton’s evolution on the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal backed by President Obama. Clinton once referred to the pact as “the gold standard” of trade deals but has since announced her opposition.
There’s some evidence to suggest Sanders’s message was effective in Michigan, a state that has shed more than its share of manufacturing jobs in the years since the North American Free Trade Agreement kicked in. Sanders won 56 percent of Michigan voters who believed trade with other countries takes away American jobs, according to exit polls broadcast by CNN.
North Carolina and Illinois are among the states with primaries on Tuesday. Sanders is holding rallies in both states, as well as Ohio, as part of busy campaign schedule on Friday.
Florida and Missouri also hold nominating contests on Tuesday.