NEW YORK -- Bernie Sanders took direct aim at Hillary Clinton on Friday in a new television ad that criticizes “Washington politicians” who accept speaking fees in excess of $200,000 but don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The senator from Vermont has pledged never to run negative TV ads, and his new 30-second spot doesn’t mention Clinton by name, but there’s no question that he’s targeting his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination in the days before the crucial New York primary.
“Wall Street banks shower Washington politicians with campaign contributions and speaking fees,” the narrator says in the ad. “And what do they get for it? A rigged economy, tax breaks and bailouts. Two hundred thousand dollars an hour for them, but not even 15 bucks an hour for all Americans. Enough is enough.”
The new ad is additional evidence of how the once-genteel Democratic primary has turned into a brawl.
Sanders has repeatedly criticized Clinton for having accepted speaking fees from Wall Street firms prior to the formal launch of her presidential campaign, including a $225,000 payout for a single speech to Goldman Sachs. That issue surfaced again Thursday in a rough-and-tumble debate between the two Democratic hopefuls.
The debate also featured an exchange over the minimum wage. Sanders supports raising the federal standard from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. Clinton is advocating $12 an hour but says she supports the efforts of localities that choose to go higher than that.
In a statement issued Friday morning, a Clinton spokeswoman called the Sanders ad "a false attack," saying that the former secretary of state has endorsed the efforts of union-backed groups around the country leading a "Fight for 15" campaign to raise the minimum wage.
"It’s time for Sanders and his campaign to stop these false attacks and innuendo," said Clinton spokeswoman Christina Reynolds. "New Yorkers care more about how a candidate will break down barriers and deliver real results for them — and they know Hillary Clinton has delivered."