Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is going on the offensive with its first television ad of the race, a highly negative spot attacking President Obama.
The ad, which is airing in New Hampshire as President Obama arrives in the Granite State to press Congress for a payroll tax cut extension, is a stereotypical attack ad in many ways. It features grainy images of Obama promising to improve the economy in 2008, which are then contrasted with heroic images of Romney and various working class Americans, as Romney lays out his economic vision above soaring string music.
One especially controversial line stands out, however: the ad shows Obama declaring that “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” The problem: Romney’s ad takes the line out of context. Obama’s statement has nothing to do with the 2012 election; he actually said it in 2008, referring to something that a member of John McCain’s campaign had said about the Arizona senator’s candidacy.
Romney’s communications director, Gail Gitchko, told the New York Times that the statement was fair game because “the tables have turned,” and Obama now finds himself in the same position that McCain did four years ago.
It’s telling that Romney’s first ad goes hard after the President instead of any of Romney’s Republican rivals, or focusing on Romney himself. It appears that — despite his inability to separate himself from the rest of the field so far — Romney’s campaign still views him as the inevitable nominee. As such, it is running general election-style ads, and laying the groundwork for a long, negative campaign against President Obama.
UPDATE: Obama’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt has responded to the ad, telling the Huffington Post that it is “a deceitful and dishonest attack.” If Romney’s plan was to put the Obama campaign on the defensive, it appears that he has succeeded.