Yesterday I noted that the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future was launching its ad campaign on a positive note. Sure, their commercial started off by attacking Barack Obama's early career as a community organizer, but it refrained from vilifying Newt Gingrich. That was somewhat unexpected; all signals indicate that Romney's campaign has entered panic mode over Gingrich's unexpected rise in the polls. But disparaging an opponent can backfire. So far the Romney campaign has avoided going negative. The Super PAC, on the other hand, has free reign to impugn Gingrich's integrity and Romney can disavow any influence on the ad (as his campaign must, since legally Super PACs and candidates cannot coordinate their efforts).
It didn't take long for Restore Our Future to take the predictable turn. A new anti-Gingrich ad showed up online last night that attacks Gingrich's "baggage." The former House speaker has been accused of ethics violations, took money from Fannie and Freddie, and while Romney is painted as a flip-flopper, Newt is just as bad of a sinner on that account (about the only attack the ad leaves out is Gingrich's frequent infidelities—the real sins in the eyes of many Christian voters).
But the ad's most interesting choice is how it starts, arguing that Obama plans to "brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent." Romney's whole campaign has been built around his inevitability of gaining the nomination, and when Republicans are polled they consistently believe Romney to be the most electable in a general election. Restore Our Future is set to spend $3.1 million in Iowa, a fortune for the state's small media markets, so caucus voters will likely be inundated with these attacks over the coming weeks.
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