Adwatch: DNC ad targets Romney over flip-flops

AP News
Posted: Nov 28, 2011 4:35 PM
Adwatch: DNC ad targets Romney over flip-flops

TITLE: "Trapped."

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: In Albuquerque, N.M., Raleigh, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Washington through Wednesday.

KEY IMAGES: The Democratic National Committee ad targeting Republican Mitt Romney opens like the trailer to a movie, flashing the words, "From the creator of `I'm running for office for Pete's sake,' comes the story of two men trapped in one body."

Romney used the "Pete's sake" phrase during an October debate to respond to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who asked why the former Massachusetts governor had used a lawn care service that employed illegal immigrants. Romney said he had urged the gardening service to stop employing illegal immigrants.

"Look,'" Romney said he told the service, "you can't have any illegals working on our property. I'm running for office, for Pete's sake! I can't have illegals!"

The ad shows mirror images of Romney and then cuts to a fireball explosion between profile images of Romney with the words, "Mitt vs. Mitt."

It then highlights the issues of abortion rights and health care, with clips of Romney apparently taking opposite positions on both.

ANALYSIS: Six weeks before Republican primary voters begin choosing a nominee, the DNC is trying to use the ad to paint Romney as someone who will change his positions and say anything to get elected.

Republican officials said the ad buy was minor _ about $14,000 on cable and broadcast outlets in the six television markets _ but the spot reflects the states where Democrats are trying to undermine Romney and reinforce President Barack Obama's message to voters. In 2008, Obama carried all five states _ New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin _ and the states are important to his re-election campaign.

Democrats argue that Romney's record has received little scrutiny during the primary contests with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, businessman Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and they want voters to know about Romney's inconsistencies. Party leaders argue that Romney has a lack of core convictions while Obama is trying to help middle class voters rebound during tough economic times.

The attack focuses on what has proven to be a key Romney weakness, his shifting of positions he once held as a Senate candidate in Massachusetts, and later as governor.

On health care, Romney has said he will try to repeal the federal health care law that was based in part on his health care plan in Massachusetts. He says that states, not Washington, should push health care policies to help the uninsured.

Romney previously supported abortion rights but as a presidential candidate has said state law should guide abortion rights and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court.

In response to the ad, Romney's campaign blasted Obama's handling of the economy, saying the White House didn't want to have to run against Romney and "be held accountable for the many failures of this administration." It reflected a growing mantra from Republicans that the nation's longstanding economic problems _ 9 percent unemployment, a fragile housing market and poor consumer confidence _ will lead to a referendum on Obama's presidency next year and few other issues will matter.

"Instead of focusing on the economy and creating jobs, President Obama and Democrats are focused on tearing down Mitt Romney," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. Foreshadowing a potential general election matchup, the Romney campaign orchestrated conference calls in which several Romney supporters _ including Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., former Iowa GOP Chairman Brian Kennedy and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty _ criticized Obama's stewardship of the economy.

The 2012 election is nearly a year away but the DNC ad and the response from Romney's team shows that intensity level is not likely to slow down anytime soon.