The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Ad Watch

McCain Tells 'Tale of Two Mitts'

By Juliet Eilperin
ORLANDO -- Sen. John McCain has launched a series of negative radio and web ads against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, hoping to convince Florida voters headed to the polls tomorrow that his chief opponent is both unelectable and unreliable when it comes to taking conservative policy stands.

Senior aide Mark Salter estimated McCain has devoted at least $250,000 to radio advertising, adding that some of it is directly aimed at questioning Romney's credibility. "If they're going to attack us, we'll push back, so if we have a little spot roughing them up, too bad."

The radio ad, which is playing in Orlando and other areas, features an announcer who mocks Romney's economic record as governor.

"They say Mitt Romney likes numbers. His campaign says he likes to look at data," the announce intones. "Well here are some numbers that should scare every Florida Republican. Four hundred million dollars. That's how much over budget the Romney health care debacle costs taxpayers in Massachusetts. Seven hundred million. A tax increase Romney stuck to the people of Massachusetts. Twenty billion dollars - that's what Romney promised Detroit, to bail out the auto industry on the back of taxpayers."

"And here is the number that should scare Florida Republicans most," the announcer concludes. "Sixteen points. The Wall Street Journal says Hillary Clinton beats Mitt Romney by 16 points. The bottom line: Mitt Romney loses to Hillary Clinton. Republicans lose. We can't afford Mitt Romney. John McCain. He's the one Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton."

But McCain reserved his harshest attacks for an online, one-minute ad titled, "A Tale of Two Mitts," which describes Romney's policy reversals as a performance worthy of "Masterpiece Theatre." On the issue of abortion, it features clips of Romney from both a 1994 Senate debate and a 2002 gubernatorial debate, in which he says, respectively, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country," and "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard."

Then, it contrasts that with his current, avowed opposition to abortion. After repeating the same technique to highlight Romney's changing stance on gun rights and his party affiliation, the announcer concludes, "Mitt Romney's Flip-Flops Truly Are Masterpieces."

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden decried the ads. "This is the McCain way. Senator McCain always sinks to a lower level and offers distortions and flailing attacks against his opponents when a race is close," he wrote in an e-mail. "If you ever need proof that [McCain is a] Washington insider with the wrong record on Republican issues is threatened by the new ideas and strong record of Governor Romney, now you have it."

Posted at 1:41 PM ET on Jan 28, 2008  | Category:  Ad Watch
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jrj24k wrote:
"Losers will always try to take cheap shots at the leader."

And which comment by Romney represents his true opinion?

Is he for protecting choice, or is he anti-abortion?

Is he for gun rights, or for gun control?

Is he for civil rights for gays and lesbians, or is he in favor is discriminating against some Americans who don't meet his religious test?

Is he anti-tax, but at the same time for increasing fees for licenses and permits (a hidden tax - just because it is not called a tax doesn't mean it doesn't increase revenues to the state in the same manner as a tax increase)?

IF, and that is a big IF, Romney gets the GOOPer nomination, the Democratic party candidate will have a field day with the DOCUMENTED flip-flops that Romney has made on various issues.

As to McCain, "Bomb, bomb Iran" will get a lot of air play, along with his "100 more years in Iraq" comment. Except for the Bush Kool-Aid drinkers, I think vast majority of Americans do not want to see a war with Iran, and 70% are currently against a continuation of Bush's war in Iraq.

Giuliani's toast after Florida. 'Nuff said about his chances.

Huckster? Will the American electorate willingly vote in a theocracy ala Iran? Highly unlikely.

Posted by: critter69 | January 28, 2008 9:24 PM


John McCain, as a "Peacetime" President!

Now, Imagine owning Manhatten for a box of Beads again!

Posted by: rat-the | January 28, 2008 9:23 PM

Uhhhh, let's see, the Liberal Media promotes McClown, instead of Mitt Romney.
THIS, coming from the Same Media, that fails to acknowledge Mitt Romney has twice the delegates as McPain, while pretending McPain is leading.


McClown, you are not a Rebel, you are an EMBARRASMENT!

Would someone get that dirty old man, out of this campaign! Amnesty McCain-the Geriatric Senile Senator!

Posted by: rat-the | January 28, 2008 9:00 PM


I support George W. Bush and the war in Iraq (if that's what you were referring to). As for "Who Would Jesus Kill?" I anticipate that the Church's doctrines re: Self-Defense and "Just War" is pretty close, and I would also point to Genesis 9:6 re: death penalty for murderers. Next question?

Posted by: JakeD | January 28, 2008 8:57 PM

Anyone who supports the Born Again, Faith Based, Pro Life Lying War Criminal Mass Murderer Serial Killer in Chief and the VP of Torture should never be in the WH. Anyone who supports wasting a couple of trillion dollars of taxpayers funds in Illegal Invasions of Sovereign States should never be our leader. If one had any courage, one would call for the Axis of Evil to be indicted for War Crimes. People who support Mission Accomplished is equally culpable in the thousands of murders. These Killers need to face Justice at the International Criminal Court. There is no Statue of Limitations on War Crimes.

Who Would Jesus Kill?

Posted by: niberg | January 28, 2008 8:52 PM

Thanks, Crisis. The only redeeming aspect of the last seven years of serial catastrophes is the fact that the whole Bush collection of fools and scoundrels seems likely to vanish permanently from the public arena. If only they could all be formed into some weird contingent of freedom fighters and sent to Iraq as replacements for the next decade.

Posted by: vrob90 | January 28, 2008 8:15 PM

"You're a liberal"!.
"No, you are!".
"No, you are!"
"I said it first".
Yup, sound like the leadership America needs to solve serious problems.
"Oh, shut up you Liberal!", You're the liberal!",
Am not"!
Are too!

Posted by: thebobbob | January 28, 2008 7:36 PM

Nice vrob, nice!

I just love that these idiots keep pounding each other with ridiculous insults and negative advertisements. By the time the GOP candidates are done with each other it's not going to take much more than the flick of a finger for Obama to knock them out in November.

Obama/Richardson '08

Posted by: thecrisis | January 28, 2008 5:58 PM

McCain would be a wonderful president. Now that the surge has transformed Iraq into a democratic model for the Middle East there should be no further delay in sending the senator to Baghdad so he can be sworn in and take up his new duties.

Posted by: vrob90 | January 28, 2008 5:17 PM

It is hard to know what would be a more catostrophic sequel to the Bush reign of error, McCain or Romney. Both are utterly awful.

The straight talker has revealed himself to be the biggest liar in this year's Presidential race with his attempt to airbrush his position in 2000 and 2001 on Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Too bad for him, but Thank God for the rest of us, what he actually thought and said was captured on videotape, as shown by Tim Russert on MTP this past Sunday. McCain is a disgrace. Why any Republican or Independent would vote for him is beyond me.

Multiple-choice Mitt is just as bad: an utterly unprincipled, amoral, ultra-narcississtic parasite. His only use to complete the leveraged buyout of the United States by the rest of the world inaugurated by the Commander-in-Thief, George Bush.

Romney and McCain actually make Thompson look good. At least he's not a complete liar. He should have stayed in.

Posted by: mnjam | January 28, 2008 5:09 PM

Were I advising Sen. McCain, I'd have told him to go another way on campaign ads.

The people handling his advertising just happen to be working for McCain. They could just as easily be working for any other Republican (or Democratic) Presidential candidate, and in this situation they'd be running exactly the same kind of ad. There's a standard form for these things -- point out the thing you want to attack about another candidate, they point it out again, then hammer home your message with heavy-handed wit or obvious sarcasm.

If it didn't work this tactic wouldn't be used. The problem is that it doesn't suit McCain, whose candidacy is based on the admiration people have for him personally. People who vote for him in Florida want to vote for him, not just to vote against Romney. Running clips of Romney saying contradictory things is fair comment -- but it's the only comment a McCain ad needs, beyond a "Conservative by Conviction: John McCain for President" tagline.

McCain has had this problem before in this campaign. He turned his campaign operation over to high-priced consultants and professional fundraisers who used to work for President Bush, and by last summer these sleazy people had left him standing there with little more than the clothes on his back. He's just not smart about how he presents himself when he's not a hopeless underdog, and is too willing to turn that task over to people who can sell more conventional candidates but don't know how to sell him.

These ads won't help McCain much in Florida, and if he does manage to get through that state's primary in spite of them he will run into the same problem later in the campaign. His appeal is that he is different than other politicians; his campaign needs to be different as well.

Posted by: jbritt3 | January 28, 2008 5:00 PM

McCain For President!!
Do you want to see how clear his message is?
Do you want to learn how much of a straight talk is he?
Do you want to learn how much Honesty this man has to share with everyone?
Then watch this video and learn..


Posted by: politiciannc | January 28, 2008 4:39 PM

Meanwhile John McCain wants to keep tossing American troops into the garbage disposal we call Iraq, letting thousands get killed and many times that number return maimed and crippled, because anything other than "victory" might HURT OUR FEELINGS.

So let Baghdad Market John, poster boy for irrelevance, try to trash his opponents buy suggesting that they once held views congruent with the wishes of 70% of Americans.

Does he have Franz Kafka on his campaign staff?

Go hug some more WWII vets, John.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | January 28, 2008 4:30 PM

A pox on both their houses. They've each demonstrated a pandering capacity that's almost beyond belief. Only the likes of Giuliani, Huckabee, Ron Paul and the Zombie could make these clowns seem plausible candidates. What a zoo!

Posted by: vrob90 | January 28, 2008 4:08 PM

A quick question for those of you so concerned about Romney not polling well against Obama or Hillary at this point in the race:

What was Governor Bill Clinton "polling" at against George H.W. Bush on January 28, 1992?

Posted by: JakeD | January 28, 2008 3:46 PM

Funny ads - yet true. McCain doesn't even have to distort the facts with Romney. If Romney wins, expect any dem to pick these up. I expect they'll be even more salient in the national race, where most voters aren't going to be fooled by Romney.

Posted by: freedom41 | January 28, 2008 3:46 PM

i agree parkerfl - saying anything to win votes...sounds like a clinton, does it not? and by the way, even if Romney did beleive in and fight for the core conservative agenda, would it be better to get the candidate in who embodies those ideals but can't beat either candidate (romney is not even polling close, see, or to get one that supports and fights for the vast majority of those values, but has a significantly better CHANCE at beating Obama and Clinton?

Posted by: str93 | January 28, 2008 3:41 PM

This has been Mitt's weakness all along; his amazing penchant for saying and doing anything to win votes.

Posted by: parkerfl | January 28, 2008 2:44 PM

RASMUSSEN: ROMNEY PULLS INTO LEAD IN NATIONAL POLL; leads by 15 among conservatives . . . [candidates are tied at 31% in Florida] . . .

Posted by: JakeD | January 28, 2008 2:24 PM

This is good news for Mitt. This shows that McCain is threatened and knows he is slated to lose in Florida. Losers will always try to take cheap shots at the leader. The only problem it, he has now shown his cards, and knows he's going to lose.

Posted by: jrj24k | January 28, 2008 2:18 PM

McCain don't forget that you live in a glass house, you should not accuse someone else of flip-flopping. You were against tax breaks before you were for them. You were against campaign finance reform before you were for it. You were against cap and trade before you were for it. Make up your mind!!!

Oh, and you've been passing bills that directly affect the economy and yet come out and say that you have little idea how it works.


Posted by: jeffboste | January 28, 2008 2:03 PM

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