AdWatch: Romney "day one" vows are missing caveats

AP News
Posted: May 18, 2012 3:58 PM
AdWatch: Romney "day one" vows are missing caveats

TITLE: "Day One"

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: Romney is spending roughly $1.3 million to run the ad in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio

KEY IMAGES: Romney does not speak in the ad, which shows video and still photos of him speaking to voters, along with separate images of construction equipment and workers in hard hats, underscoring the campaign's focus on the economy.

SCRIPT: Backed by upbeat music, a male narrator says that Romney would, on "Day One," approve the Keystone XL pipeline to create "thousands of jobs," introduce tax cuts and "begin replacing" President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which the narrator calls Obamacare. "That's what a Romney presidency would look like," the narrator concludes.

ANALYSIS: In his first television advertisement of the general election, Romney is reinforcing his focus on the economy while attacking two of Obama's more polarizing policies in a nod to skeptical conservatives _ along with some independents _ in battleground states. The campaign also produced a Spanish version of the ad, acknowledging the growing political influence of the nation's Hispanics.

The positive tone is a stark contrast to the latest ad from Obama's re-election campaign, which attacks Romney's business career. The tone is not a surprise, however, for a Republican candidate who is still unknown by large swaths of the electorate. Romney is trying to brighten his image before Obama can define him in a less flattering way.

But Romney's ad oversimplifies complicated issues and exaggerates his potential influence as president. He's outlining plans he can't accomplish on his first day in office without significant cooperation from parties beyond his control.

The narrator promises Romney would issue an order "to begin replacing Obamacare" on his first day in office. While he sometimes gets big cheers on the campaign trail by promising to repeal the law, Romney knows he cannot do away with Obama's landmark health care bill on his own. His use of the word, "begin" gives him some wiggle room but also hedges the "day one" theme.

Romney has outlined plans to issue an executive order allowing individual states to opt out of the federal legislation. While his authority to do so is unclear, it is clear that a full repeal of the law promises to be as much a slog as was its creation. With the help of Congress, Romney could try to strip the law's funding. But congressional cooperation would depend on the balance of power on Capitol Hill next year.

Full repeal of the law would be an even steeper climb. It would require a larger Republican congressional majority to move forward and to clinch 60 votes in the Senate _ all this as the law increasingly takes root in the nation's medical and insurance system.

But Romney's decision to address health care in his premier ad speaks directly to skeptical conservatives who refused to support the former Massachusetts governor during the bitter GOP primary. Their reluctance was due, in part, to Romney's support as governor for a Massachusetts bill that contains the same individual mandate to buy insurance as Obama's bill.

Romney addresses another red-meat issue in going after the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year amid questions over its route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska.

Obama's decision drew fire from Republicans and industry groups who say it delays creation of thousands of jobs and hampers new oil production that could help reduce dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Romney's statement that he would approve the pipeline on day one is missing some caveats.

For one, it is possible that the project may already be approved before the next presidential term begins in January. If Romney were to be elected and inherit the issue, the need for environmental reviews would still exist, and they may not be completed immediately. The pipeline also is subject to review by Nebraska, whose officials have said their evaluation of a new route will take six to nine months.

Finally, Romney's promise to introduce tax cuts that "reward job creators" oversimplifies a plan that could have huge ramifications for the nation's taxpayers. Tax cuts would add to the federal deficit, which Romney has vowed to shrink. He says any tax cuts would be paid for by closing certain deductions and loopholes but has refused to provide any details on plans that may ultimately affect popular deductions like those on mortgage interest.


Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.