Pro-Romney PAC Is Killing Machine With $35 Million in Ads
A new ad airing today in the run-up to the April 3 Wisconsin primary replays footage of Rick Santorum saying he doesn’t “care what the unemployment rate’s going to be” and accuses him of voting against national right- to-work legislation.
It’s the latest attack spot sponsored by Restore Our Future, a so-called super-political action committee supporting Mitt Romney, aimed at derailing Santorum’s candidacy in Wisconsin by running more than 1,647 attack ads that the former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign says are misleading.
The commercial fits a pattern that has become a defining feature of the 2012 Republican presidential primary race. Since the contests began, Restore Our Future has spent $35 million on commercials attacking Santorum and Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker, the two candidates who have come closest to knocking Romney out of front-runner status, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. The super-PAC has spent just $1.1 million promoting Romney, the data shows.
“They need to demonize and destroy, they need to slash and burn their opponents,” said David Johnson, a Republican strategist from Atlanta who worked on former Senator Bob Dole’s presidential bid in 1988 and is unaffiliated with any candidate this cycle. “That’s the only way Romney can win” because he has “no base of support,” he said.
In the 29 states holding primary competitions thus far, Romney has gotten a majority only 3 times: in his home state of Massachusetts; in Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot; and in Idaho. In Nevada, he got 50.1 percent support among caucus attendees.
In contrast to the super-PAC, Romney’s campaign has spent $11.8 million on broadcast ads, according to the CRP. The campaign has aired 12,817 spots, almost all of them positive, since January of 2011, according to CMAG.
The Romney commercial run most often is called “Moral Responsibility” and touts his commitment to be a strong financial steward for the nation. Another ad calls Romney a “man of steadiness,” citing his 42-year marriage to Ann Romney, his lifelong membership in the same church and his employment at Bain Capital LLC for 25 years.
Both the Romney campaign and Restore Our Future declined to comment through their spokeswomen, Andrea Saul and Brittany Gross.
John Brabender, a Santorum senior adviser, called the pro- Romney super-PAC ads “troubling,” particularly since they are aimed at Republicans. “Why in the world didn’t he spend his $35 million running ads against Obama instead of brutally attacking Republicans?” Brabender said.