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Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign released a new ad today emphasizing the candidate’s “compassion,” in a clear attempt to stop the bleeding from his infamous “47 percent” video.

The ad, titled “Too Many Americans,” features Romney speaking directly into the camera for a full 60 seconds as he blasts the slow economic recovery of the past four years.

“Too many Americans are struggling to find work in today’s economy. Too many of those who are working are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make falling incomes meet rising prices for food and gas,” Romney says in the ad. “More Americans are living in poverty than when President Obama took office and 15 million more are on food stamps. President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them.”

Romney then pivots to language that evokes George W. Bush’s original campaign message of “compassionate conservatism.”

“We shouldn’t measure compassion by how many people are on welfare. We should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good paying job,” Romney argues. “My plan will create 12 million new jobs over the next four years — helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening the middle class.”

This is Romney’s first direct-to-camera ad of the campaign season. The shift in technique — and the new emphasis on compassion and poverty — underscore the fact that Romney is on the defensive over his secretly recorded remarks that 47 percent of the country are victims, and will vote for President Obama no matter what. As NBC News’ First Read points out, “Candidate-to-camera ads are typically when all else is failing and the bonds of trust with the voters are fraying. ”

That certainly seems to be the case here. The video of the fundraiser has been viewed over 3,000,000 times, and the Obama campaign has already used it in two devastating attack ads, with more likely to come. Polling suggests that Romney’s comments have made a major impact on voters. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54 percent see Romney’s comments in an unfavorable light, compared to just 32 percent who saw them favorably. Furthermore, a startling 64 percent of independents now hold unfavorable impressions of Romney’s campaign, up 18 percent from July.

The Romney campaign allowed Democrats to attack Romney’s private sector business record for months before directly responding, a move that many pundits blame for the candidate’s persistently low favorability ratings. They seem determined not to make the same mistake with the 47 percent controversy — but, if recent polls are to be believed, the effort may be too little, too late.

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