Guy Benson
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Yesterday, we reviewed the GOP primary state of play in Michigan and presented a pair of positive ads being run by the Romney and Santorum campaigns.  Predictably, the race is turning negative.  As the Pennsylvanian opens up a 12-point national lead over the former Massachusetts governor, a pro-Romney SuperPAC fires off a fresh advertising volley, focusing on Santorum's record in Washington:
 


Romney critic Phil Klein at the Examiner backs up some of the assertions in this ad, hitting the former Senator over his "big government parochialism:"
 

As a Senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum took earmarks, pushed a support program for dairy farmers, sided with unions and backed steel tariffs. In these instances, when free market principles clashed with local concerns, he abandoned limited government conservatives. A year ago, I asked Santorum about his support for dairy subsidies.

“(T)he milk program, compared to Social Security and all the entitlement programs was a small program about an industry that was struggling in America -- the small farmer in that part of the country,” he told me. “My feeling is, sure, we can have a milk program that has a concentration of milk into big super duper farms in the South and in the West, and we will continue to see the deterioration of rural Pennsylvania, rural New York, and other rural areas. And if people are fine with that, that's fine. I think there's something to be said for having viable businesses in that part of the country to compete.”

Whatever can be said about such a position, it is not the free market position. And during the January 7th New Hampshire ABC/Yahoo debate, when Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., has challenged Santorum for being a big spender who sided with against “right to work” laws, he once again cited local concerns.


These are salient criticisms in a Republican primary, but for reasons I discussed yesterday, some are a bit rich coming from the Romney camp.  Santorum fires back at RomneyWorld's attacks in a new ad featuring mud-filled paintballs and a Mitt Romney lookalike:
 


Commentary's John Podhoretz thinks the spot is "sophomoric and unpresidential."  I'm not sure I agree. Presenting a lighthearted counter-punch seems much more effective than, say, Newt's various responses to getting attacked, which primarily consisted of leveling indignant broadsides and whining. Santorum, Inc. had better brace for a lot more of this; RomneyWorld is preparing a multimillion dollar air campaign against his closest rivals in six key states ahead of Super Tuesday.

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography