The move started earlier on Saturday, when Buttigieg went up with his first attack ad on TV in South Carolina, slamming Sanders on health care.
“Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All would completely eliminate private insurance, forcing 150 million Americans off their current plans,” the ad’s narrator says. “Pete Buttigieg has a better way to lower costs and cover everyone, Medicare for All Who Want It.”
“Instead of polarization, progress,” the ad concludes.
On Saturday night, Buttigieg made an electoral case for himself as the best candidate to surpass Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Ours is the only campaign that’s beaten Senator Sanders anywhere in the country,” Buttigieg said, citing his slim state delegate lead in Iowa — which is holding a recount to check those results after severe problems with reporting the vote earlier this month. (Sanders won the raw vote count in the state.)
But as Buttigieg tries to gather more support to his campaign, Biden and Amy Klobuchar are also pitching themselves as moderate options against Sanders, while Elizabeth Warren has styled herself as a unity candidate who could bridge the wings of the Democratic Party — albeit one who has ratcheted up her criticisms of Sanders and other Democratic contenders in recent days. Meanwhile, Mike Bloomberg has spent more than $400 million on TV ads to push himself into the race.
“I believe we need to defeat Trump and turn the page on this era in our politics by establishing a tone of belonging, bringing an end to the viciousness and the bullying that is tearing apart the country,” Buttigieg said in his speech. “Senator Sanders’ revolution has the tenor of combat, division, and polarization, a vision where whoever wins the day, nothing will change the toxic tone of our politics.”
Buttigieg previewed some of these attack lines during last week’s debate, calling both Bloomberg and Sanders two of the “most polarizing figures on this stage.”
“Most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power,” Buttigieg said on the debate stage. “We shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.”