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Romney Goes Negative in Iowa Ad

DES MOINES -- Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has begun his first negative campaign ad, running a spot in Iowa that accuses the surging Mike Huckabee of supporting in-state tuition and scholarships for illegal immigrants.

The spot begins by comparing Romney and Huckabee favorably, perhaps hoping that some of the Huckabee pixie dust will rub off on Romney: "Two former governors...two good family men...Both pro-life...both support a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage."

But then the spot, first reported by Mark Halperin of Time Magazine, takes a turn.

"The difference? Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens...opposed driver's licenses for illegals. Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded scholarships for illegal aliens."

The ad ends with the phrase: "On immigration, the choice matters."

Romney is suddenly running scared as Huckabee has overtaken him in several polls of Iowa caucus-goers. In addition to the TV spot, Romney's campaign today forwarded an anti-Huckabee article in the National Review to a large number of reporters.

The decision to go negative on television is fraught with peril, according to campaign observers and veterans of past Iowa caucuses. The voters here are particularly sensitive to, and offended by, attack politics. They want a reasoned discussion of the issues.

But Romney may have no choice. His campaign -- which has never been strong in national polls -- is built around the notion that he will win the Iowa caucus and then the New Hampshire primary. If he loses to Huckabee here, the former governor's chances of securing the nomination are severely hurt.

Both men are campaigning in Iowa tomorrow. Huckabee has a full day of events, starting at 8 in the morning and going for the next 12 hours. Romney has scheduled an event in Des Moines. Both are scheduled to take part in the final Republican debate on Wednesday, sponsored by Iowa Public Television and the Des Moines Register.

Of course, an expected ice storm in Iowa could disrupt their plans. The weather report for the Des Moines area said: "Freezing rain will quickly develop this evening and become widespread after midnight... so only travel in an emergency and take your winter survival kit."

--Michael D. Shear

Posted at 6:01 PM ET on Dec 10, 2007  | Category:  Ad Watch
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We don't think Mitt Romney is perfect. Nor believe he's never made a mistake. But we do think he is intelligent enough to see something others don't see - the common sense solutions ignored by many politicians. He's creative enough to develop new ways of thinking, doing, and spending, and fearless enough to tackle a flawed government system. We believe that he will earnestly strive to serve our nation with the best of his already proven leadership abilities. His Faith in America speech demonstrated his ability to inspire the nation and remind us that we can still be proud to be Americans. Romney will lead the United States of America with integrity, enthusiasm, and honor.

We first looked at Romney because we have personal friends that have known him and his family for over 20 years and they say Mitt and Ann are remarkable and wonderful people. Our friends are remarkable people in their own right, so their recommendation made us want to find out more about him. Here are just a few things that caught our attention:

His work history in the private business sector of taking businesses and turning them around in a relatively short time is impressive. Matthew Rees says this about Mitt:

"Romney sees something others didn't see... He was willing to pursue--and analyze--data that others wouldn't bother to chase down. His dogged persistence paid off. During the 14 years Romney headed Bain Capital, the firm's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was a staggering 113 percent. At that growth rate, a hypothetical $1,000 investment would grow to $39.6 million before fees. Few, if any, VC [venture capital] firms have ever matched Bain Capital's performance under Mitt Romney."

http://www.american.com/archive/2006/december/mitt-romney

Romney possesses a willingness to analyze tedious data to make the most informed decisions. With the financial crisis our country is in, wouldn't you like to have an astute financial person leading decisions on our country's spending?

We had a chance to meet with Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, who at one time worked with Mitt at Bain & Co. She said when he called and asked her to head up his campaign finance committee she was hesitant because she had never done anything politically active like that before. After working with Mitt on his campaign and looking at the other candidates, however, she said she couldn't imagine anyone else being able to do the things she knew Mitt was capable of - things that our country needs at this critical point in our history. She told the following stories about Mitt:

1) On a personal level, Mitt is great because he honestly doesn't care who gets credit for something as long as the proper thing is accomplished. So he is happy to acknowledge and recognize everyone involved. That is what makes people enjoy working with and for him. He's a great mentor and believer in volunteering and public service and supported his employees in such endeavors.

2) In Massachusetts (MA), they needed many millions of dollars to refurbish up to 100 old courthouses. It cost millions per courthouse and Mitt said that while he understood the importance of preserving history and having courthouses in good repair, he recognized that was a lot of taxpayer money to be spent. He asked for some research to be done - if no one had to drive more than 90 minutes, how many courthouses would be needed in the state. The data came back with five. Mitt proposed they refurbish 50 courthouses - more than enough to fit the needs of the state and put the rest of the money toward other areas needing attention. Government tends to always add but doesn't necessarily think of eliminating inefficiency. There are probably historical groups angry that the state didn't fund every old courthouse in the state - but as governor he worked to benefit the people by eliminating longstanding duplication. How much duplication do we have at the Federal Government level? How much inefficiency can be eliminated?

3) MA educational ranking in the nation had slipped considerably before Mitt became governor. Many schools reported up 1/3 of high school students were not graduating with average achievement scores down and disruptions up. Schools, like the old courthouses, were in disrepair. Mitt said that in order to compete with the rest of the world, children need better education. He provided monies for school refurbishing programs, after-school teaching assistance, and mandatory parent prep courses to show how to deal with unruly students. He increased pay to science and math teachers. Soon, they had some of the best teachers seeking jobs in MA. Mitt then said he wanted to give the top 20% or 25% of MA high school graduates full college tuition at state universities. Soon students (probably with parental support due to the financial incentive) were working hard to improve their grades and test scores. Within four years, their schools had moved up to the top of the national ladder. Who would have thought it possible to give scholarships to the top 25%? That's "outside the box" kind of thinking! Mitt invested in the future by investing in infrastructure, teachers, and scholarships. In addressing our education woes in Ohio we have a motto: "In the Lottery we trust."

4) There are MA residents "for and against" his Healthcare program. But, to us, the bottom line was this... We all need health insurance coverage. Romney looked at how much money the state was spending on uninsured medical costs (can you hear Carl Sagan say, "Billions and billions?"). Leading a by-partisan effort, he figured out how the state could make better use of the people's money; instead of just paying the people's medical bills, the government used the money to assist in buying or subsidizing all residents health insurance. This obligates people to act responsibly, choose personal healthcare providers, and end healthcare waste. Again, that is "outside the box" thinking. Using money they already had... just allocating it differently. That is what we need, someone to see something others don't see. Do you really want the Federal Government administering our healthcare?

Like most voters, we want to hear what qualifies potential candidates to take the mantel of President. Looking at a candidate's actual record of achievement tell what you can expect. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."

We're supporting Romney!

Posted by: astevens-OH | December 11, 2007 11:31 PM

What I especially like about Romney is his apparent great kindness. A few years ago, the daughter of one of Romney's friends went missing in New York City. Romney shut his business down, and all the employees of the company went to New York City to look for her. Thankfully, they found her.

It would be a rare person who would shut his business down to help a friend. I read about this in Newsweek, and it made a great impression on me.

Posted by: jfrench | December 11, 2007 2:32 PM

I think Huckabee lies too easily; not very 'Christian.' For example, he said his scholarship program for illegal aliens applied to kids who had been in school in the U.S "all their lives," when the program only required them to have been in high school for three years. Mark Halperin said, "Huckabee is unflappable, unfailingly genial, and willing to pleasantly deny the truth when it suits his purposes (such as claiming that he did not support the quarantine of AIDS patients in 1992)." The guy is reminicent of a con artist, so convincing in his sincerity.

We saw what happened the last time we elected a 'nice guy' (Jimmy Carter) to the White House. Huckabee has not demonstrated that he can manage his way out of a paper bag, let alone run a complex country facing the kind of daunting challenges that we face.

As an Episcopalian, I like Romney. He correctly pointed out that the authority of the leaders of the Mormon Church ends where that of the President of the United States begins. He said that he would be beholden to no one group, but would serve all the people of the United States. He has a stellar record as a manager in business, government, and the Olympics. He saved the Olympics after it had gone down the rabbit hole. There is no other person running, with the possible exception of Guiliani, so qualified by breadth of experience and proven ability to be President of the United States.

Posted by: jfrench | December 11, 2007 1:37 PM

ROMNEY, ROMNEY; CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT IT TAKES TO GET A VOTE FROM ONE HARD WORKING AMERICAN? REAL HAIRCUT, REAL SMILE, REAL ROLLED UP SLEVES AND KNOWLEDGE OF PLAYING ONE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. THAT'S ALL, YOU GOT ONE OF THESE, BUT STILL NOT SO REAL. YOU DO LOOK LIKE REAL PRESIDENT ALREADY, SO DOES HILLARY. WATCH OUT FOR MIKEY ! ! ! !

Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 10, 2007 8:43 PM

Can anyone feel the heat Mitt Romney must be feeling to get this desperate? I'm guessing that the ad doesn't contain the fact that ole Mitt (at the time) supported the comprehensive immigration reform bill that died in Congress last year--the one he now chastises men like McCain and Huckabee for supporting. I'm starting to think there are a growing number of Americans who look forward to the day this guy drops out of the race.

Posted by: bigkam17 | December 10, 2007 8:39 PM

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