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Biden super PAC makes late jump into Super Tuesday states

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A super PAC backing Joe Biden is making a “low six-figure” digital ad buy ahead of Super Tuesday, a small sum spread across 14 states just as Biden tries to reset his campaign with a win in the South Carolina primary.

The group, Unite the Country, spent more than $4.5 million in Iowa but has spent just $1.3 million in other places so far, according to Advertising Analytics, as Biden struggled in the earliest states and Bernie Sanders gained momentum in the Democratic primary. Biden’s campaign had to take a thrifty approach to Super Tuesday, preparing its own six-figure ad campaign only this week.

But the campaign’s shift into more demographically favorable states, starting with South Carolina on Saturday, offers Biden a chance to prove he still has strength in the primary. And Steve Schale, an adviser to Unite the Country, told POLITICO the Biden super PAC started taking in money at a faster rate after Biden’s performance in this week’s Democratic debate.

“Over the last three days, donors have become much more interested,” Schale said. “It’s a combination of things: the state of the race, a good debate, the town hall, polls. It’s been a good couple of days.”

Schale said the super PAC is focusing heavily on African American turnout and persuasion in five Super Tuesday states: North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee.

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More than 70 percent of the delegates available on Super Tuesday hail from communities where at least 30 percent of the voters are people of color, Schale said.

“It’s a delegate game at this point,” he said.

The Unite the Country ad buy is a small investment compared with rival campaigns and super PACs. A pro-Warren super PAC, Persist PAC, has locked in more than $3 million in television spending in Super Tuesday states.

But Biden will still benefit from the outside help. While Mike Bloomberg has spent millions of dollars advertising in Super Tuesday states and Bernie Sanders’ small donors have funded a multimillion dollar television campaign, Biden’s campaign was off the air until it reserved Super Tuesday ads only this week.

In a memo reviewed by POLITICO, Schale and fellow super PAC strategists Amanda Loveday and Julianna Smoot painted Bloomberg as Biden’s chief rival in the race.

“The biggest challenge facing Joe Biden and our goal of helping him to a night on March 3rd isn’t Bernie Sanders, or any of the other candidates who have been on the debate stage,” the memo reads. “Rather, his biggest challenge is the work Michael Bloomberg’s doing to divide the moderate vote to the benefit of Bernie Sanders.

“In fact, today, it is fair to argue that the single best thing Bernie Sanders has going into Super Tuesday is Mayor Bloomberg,” the memo continued.

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