Some time before the primary season’s kickoff Iowa caucuses in February, the Bernie Sanders campaign released a minute-long ad that sought to rise above the mudslinging of presidential elections and speak instead to a hopeful, patriotic vision of the United States.
That ad — appropriately titled “America” and set to the tune of the Simon and Garfunkel song by the same name — featured imagery of rural countrysides, cows grazing on farmland, and, of course, Bernie Sanders supporters. The rousing score culminated with the line “They’ve all come to look for America” fading out over a wide shot of screaming Sanders fans at a campaign rally.
You can watch it here:
The ad drew overwhelmingly positive reviews for its optimistic message, with rival Hillary Clinton saying herself that it was “fabulous” and that she “loved it.”
“Look, you campaign in poetry, you govern in prose. And we need a lot more poetry in this campaign and in our country,” Clinton said of the Sanders spot during a CNN town hall in January. “So, I applaud that. I love the feeling. I love the energy.”
But while most appreciated the ad’s craftsmanship, some news outlets also pointed out one glaring problem: the people featured in it presented a startling lack of diversity in America. One article in The Atlantic noted that it’s actually “hard not to notice how white the ad is.” Other detractors slammed the spot as simply representative of Sanders’ core voter base: overwhelmingly young, white Americans.
But as the primary race has shifted focus towards a heated contest in New York, the ad looks different now.
On Thursday, the campaign released a new version, which keeps most of the spot the same, including its musical bed and its ending montage of smiling supporters. The New York version, however, now features more footage from evocative of New York City, including iconic Big Apple imagery like the Brooklyn Bridge.
And there’s one other major change: the new ad includes a significantly more diverse cast of characters. By CBS’ count, “New York” features about three times as many people of color as Sanders’ original “America” spot.
Take a look here:
You can also watch the two ads play out side-by-side in the video above.
Campaigns have reused and re-cut ads in the past to tailor to specific audiences. And it makes sense that the “America” ad, targeted to the primary voters in rural Iowa and New Hampshire, showcased more farmhouses than metropolitan streets.
Still, just as how it was hard not to notice the prominently white cast of the first spot, it’s difficult not to observe just how many more African American faces feature in the “New York” cut.
When asked about the thinking behind the new ad, Sanders campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs said that it was just one of several versions of “America” the campaign has put out.
“We’ve produced several versions of America with images tailored to different states,” Briggs told CBS News. “It’s a great ad full of all sorts of great Americans.”
The New York version is the only state-centric cut of “America” currently featured on the Sanders’ campaign YouTube page.
When asked whether the other state ads have aired, the campaign did not respond to a request for comment.