The Fix: Romney Goes Negative

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 11, 2007 12:39 PM
Chris Cillizza has a detailed analysis of Mitt Romney's new ad.  Here are some key excerpts about the ad:

... First, it attempts to blur any differences between Romney and Huckabee on issues of importance to social conservative voters by noting that both men are pro-life and favor traditional marriage -- a strategy he debuted in a "PostTalk" interview several weeks ago. Left unsaid is the fact that Romney is a far more recent convert on each of the issues than Huckabee.

More ...

... The problem for Romney is that the ads aren't running in a vacuum. Huckabee has suddenly become the "cool" candidate, the one with buzz and momentum. That's hard to stop even with a well-crafted attack like this one. When a candidate is riding as high as Huckabee currently is, voters tend to ignore negative information about him (or her) as they are too busy falling in love. It may well be that Romney is simply laying the groundwork right now for an extended onslaught on Huckabee -- that would be our bet -- and this first ad is simply designed to sow the seeds for that effort by raising small questions ("Maybe Huckabee isn't so great?") in voters' minds.

And, Romney's decision to go negative (or comparative, whatever the case may be) also opens him up to criticism from his rivals -- each of whom is doing their own positioning in Iowa and beyond ...