Bloomberg to double TV spending, expand staff after Democrats' Iowa caucus chaos

DETROIT/DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday said he will immediately double his already massive nationwide television ad spending and expand his staff after the debacle of Iowa’s failure to promptly announce its caucuses results.

Bloomberg, 77, has spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars of his own fortune on TV advertising on an unconventional White House bid that has him skipping early voting states and entering the race on March 3, when 14 states will vote on Super Tuesday.

As his rivals campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, the business tycoon and former New York mayor instead traveled to delegate-rich California and general election swing states Michigan and Pennsylvania.

He said he would seize the moment created by confusion surrounding the Monday caucuses in Iowa, where no winner had been declared as of Tuesday afternoon.

“I think where there is no one clear winner it gives us the opportunity to get the message out, and we’re going to take the opportunity,” Bloomberg told Reuters in an interview in Detroit.

A Bloomberg aide said the campaign would expand its staff to more than 2,100 people nationwide and double its TV advertising in every market where it is currently advertising.

Bloomberg has been climbing in national opinion polls. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week showed him moving into third place behind front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders among registered voters for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Some of Bloomberg’s rivals, including U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, have accused the billionaire of trying to buy a presidential election.

The Democratic National Committee, which oversees the party’s process for picking a candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November, was criticized last week for changing the rules on how candidates can qualify for debates, a move that was seen as opening the door for Bloomberg to participate.

While most of the Democratic field has been investing money and time in early voting states for the past year, Bloomberg, who entered the race in November, has focused on later states such as California, the single biggest prize of the presidential primary with 10 times as many delegates available as the 41 delegates for Iowa.

Within two months of jumping into the race, Bloomberg had hired more than 200 employees in California, according to his campaign, dwarfing Sanders’ 80-strong team in the state. Bloomberg also has spent more on television ads nationally than all 10 other Democratic candidates combined.

Reporting by Jason Lange and Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis