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Television viewers in Iowa are being confronted by one of the first direct negative ads of the 2020 Democratic election campaign. The target: Senator Bernie Sanders and the spectre of socialism.

“I like Bernie, I think he has great ideas, but Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa – they’re just not going to vote for a socialist,” says one man in the near $700,000 media campaign by Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action arm. “I just don’t think Bernie can beat Trump.”

The message was music to the ears of Donald Trump’s supporters as the US president held a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday. Many agreed with the sentiment of the ad and suggested that fears of socialism would be a potent electoral weapon in the event of Sanders, from Vermont, becoming the Democratic nominee.

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