Romney, Santorum out with new ads in Michigan

With just two weeks to go before a Michigan primary that is shaping up to be closer than earlier expected, Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney unveiled new, more personal, television ads touting their family backgrounds to GOP voters deciding who should lead the party in its quest to oust President Obama.

Romney, in the 30-second spot "Growing Up," calls the February 28 contest "personal," as he emphasizes his Wolverine roots. The former Massachusetts governor grew up in Michigan, where his father, a former presidential candidate himself, was a top auto executive and governor. Romney called himself a "son of Detroit" in an op-ed in the Detroit News Tuesday. 

"I want to make Michigan stronger and better," he says in the ad. "Michigan has been my home and this is personal."

In 2008, 42 percent of voters said the candidate's ties to the state were important or somewhat important in their vote. Romney won by a wide margin with that group.

The spot features Romney driving along what appear to be the streets of Michigan, reflecting on how "exciting" things were in the state when he was growing up, and how things have changed since then.

"Now when I grew up in Michigan it was exciting to be here. Remember going to the Detroit Auto Show with my dad. That was a big deal," he says. "How in the world did an industry and its leaders and its unions get in such a fix that they lost jobs, that they lost their future?"

The answer, Romney suggests, is liberal policymaking.

"President Obama did all these things that liberals have wanted to do for years. The fact that you've got millions of Americans out of work, home values collapsing, people here in Detroit are distressed," he says, without explaining what "these things" are.

Throughout the ad, Romney is featured in vintage photographs with both his father and his now-wife, Ann; old video footage aims to invoke a sense of nostalgia for the "exciting" Michigan of decades past.

Santorum, meanwhile, uses his 30-second spot to sell his electability to the people of Michigan while reiterating his credentials as a devoted family man.

It touts Santorum as a "full spectrum conservative" and casts him as the man with "the best chance to beat Obama," hitting both Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who have made that electability claim.

Alternating footage of Santorum on the campaign trail with images of him with his children and wife, the spot touts the candidate as "rock solid on values issues" and a "trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back America."

The Santorum ad, called "Very Best Chance," will run in the state starting Tuesday or Wednesday and was a $42,000 buy, said a source familiar with the campaign's advertising plans.

According to a recent survey by the American Research Group, Santorum, who has seen a surge in the national polls following his three-state primary win last week, now leads Romney 33 percent to 27 percent in Michigan. But the Romney campaign is expected to pour significant funds into advertising in the state, where a Santorum victory might be considered embarrassing. On Monday, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future announced it would make a $640,000 ad buy there.

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