Despite promise, Santorum goes negative on Romney

screenshot of Rick Santorum's ad against Romney, called "Rombo"
Youtube

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum promised this week to run a positive campaign against his GOP rival Mitt Romney, but he's out today with a new ad that lampoons Romney as a big-government politician on the defensive.

Called "Rombo," the 30-second spot features a Romney impersonator running through an empty warehouse, using a machine gun to shoot mud at a cardboard cutout of Santorum.

"Mitt Romney's negative attack machine is back, on full throttle," a narrator says. "This time, Romney's firing his mud at Rick Santorum...Why? Because Romney's trying to hide from his big-government Romneycare, and his support for job-killing cap-and-trade. And in the end, Mitt Romney's ugly attacks are going to backfire."

The Santorum campaign said the ad would run statewide in Michigan, though it declined to say how much it is spending to put it on the air. Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father was governor, and would be expected to have a natural advantage there -- but polls suggest Santorum is taking the lead in the state. The latest CBS News/ New York Times poll shows Santorum with a slight lead among Republican voters nationally as well.

Romney responded to the "Rombo" ad Wednesday morning on Fox News, calling it "the nature of politics."

"You always accuse the other guy of what you've done yourself," he said. "So, my campaign hasn't run any negative ads against Rick Santorum. His campaign ran attack ads against me, in South Carolina, and his PAC did so in Missouri. So, I'm not saying we won't finally go after the guy, but frankly, he's been going after me as that ad suggests."

While his campaign may not have run any attack ads against Santorum, the Romney camp has held a series of conference calls to criticize the former senator's record. Additionally, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is running $640,000 worth of ads in Michigan, which holds its primary on February 28; the group released a Santorum attack ad on Tuesday.