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October 12, 2011

2012 Ad War: Conservative PAC Turns up the Heat on Romney

Another in our guest series from Inkwell Strategies analyzing the 2012 campaign ad war.

No one said being the front runner would be easy.

Mitt Romney knows this better than most. Following a tumultuous start to the 2012 campaign season, Romney has once again emerged as the front runner for the Republican nomination.

Long seen as the default nominee, Romney's success has less to do with his popularity and more to do with an overwhelming lack of satisfaction with the rest of the GOP field.

And nowhere is this dissatisfaction more apparent than with the far-right of his party. Targeted for many of his past political positions, Romney has been accused by many in the conservative moment of being a liberal in sheep's clothing.

Enter this video, released October 5 by the Defeat Obama Campaign, a conservative political action committee. Titled "Liberal Mitt's Greatest Hits," the eight minute and 46 second video outlines a handful of stances that has earned Romney that most-hated of political monikers: "flip-flopper."

The video is composed of old interview and debate footage, mostly culled from his successful 2002 run for governor of Massachusetts, interposed with textual descriptions of Romney's "liberal" positions.

There are no talking heads, no evocative patriotic images, not even a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Unlike Rick Perry's glitzy "Proven Leadership" ad, production value has taken a backseat to the informational content of the video.

Indeed, this damning clip show plays less like a traditional campaign video and more like a political science thesis project. It presents its information clearly and simply, and allows Romney to make the point for them. And make it they do.

From abortion to climate change, from the second amendment to bank bailouts, the video adeptly (and in some parts painfully) highlights past positions that are substantively different than the ones Romney currently espouses as the GOP frontrunner.

Hearing Romney loudly defending Roe v. Wade, for instance, is enough to make even the most ardent Romney backer reach for the Tylenol. And for a candidate that has always struggled with earning the trust of the Republican right-wing, this video will do Romney no favors.

While Romney's strong debate performances are likely to maintain his position at the top of the Republican field for the time being, it's a fair bet that the lines of attack in this video -- albeit in 30 second doses -- will blanket the airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming weeks.


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