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Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have launched their first television advertising in Michigan as their campaign battle here intensifies with 18 days until the state’s March 8 presidential primary.

The Sanders campaign bought at least $364,534 in initial airtime Thursday and Friday on TV stations in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Lansing, a Detroit News review of public records showed.

Clinton’s campaign said Friday it has placed “an initial six-figure” TV ad buy in the Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Traverse City markets, but would not disclose the full amount.

A review of public records filed with the Federal Communications Commission showed the Clinton campaign has bought at least $169,800 in TV ads in those markets.

More spending on TV ads by both campaigns is expected as the primary and a March 6 debate in Flint nears.

Clinton’s first 30-second Michigan TV ad portrays the former secretary of state and U.S. senator from New York as the candidate with a “proven” track record on domestic and foreign affairs.

Sanders, a second-term U.S. senator from Vermont and former 16-year congressman, began airing 30-second and 60-second ads that tout his support for veterans and clean energy as well as his fight against Wall Street banks and opposition to the 2003 Iraq war.

The Republican presidential contest has yet to rev up television advertising.

The super political action committee Right to Rise, which backs the GOP presidential ambitions of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, this week pulled television ads initially intended to run in Michigan and other states this month to boost its ad presence in South Carolina.

Ads were scheduled to begin running Tuesday, mainly in Detroit and Grand Rapids-area markets, but none aired in Michigan. Instead, Right to Rise focused its attention on the Palmetto State heading into Saturday’s primary.

“We are postponing our start date for March 1 state buys, which we can afford to do since no other viable Republican has reserved as much as we have so far in states like Michigan,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for Right to Rise.

New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, was preparing Friday to purchase airtime in Michigan, spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp said.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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