As Obama visits New Hampshire, Romney starts running critical ads there

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is cheered on by supporters and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., left, outside City Hall in Nashua, N.H., Nov. 20, 2011. Ayotte endorsed Romney earlier.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Mitt Romney
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mitt Romney is beginning to hit the airwaves in New Hampshire, with his initial campaign commercials on Tuesday timed to coincide with President Obama's trip to the state. The campaign reportedly has spent $134,000 for spots scheduled to run until Sunday.

In the ad, according to a release from Romney's campaign, footage of then-presidential candidate Obama is shown from various appearances in 2008, making such declarations as "We need a rescue plan for the middle class" and "We need to provide relief for homeowners." The ad then argues that such pronouncements have failed and ends with Romney touting his "smaller, simpler, smarter" approach.

"I want people to remember that when he was candidate Obama, that he said he was going to get this economy going, he was going to bring people together, be a real leader for change in America," Romney told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an interview Monday. "The contrast between what he said and what he did is so stark, people will recognize we really do need to have someone new lead this country."

The only other candidates who have bought air time in New Hampshire before now have been Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The "super PAC" for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman recently bought more than $800,000 worth of ads in the Granite State in a move to appeal to moderates there.

Romney had previously declined to tell CBS News/National Journal when his ads - filmed last weekend -- would start airing, joking, "I'd tell you if you won't tell anyone." He said he did not want to reveal more to rival campaigns and that his campaign would be holding the ads until the last possible minute, based on a calculation of how much they could spend.

The spot continues the former Massachusetts governor's approach of largely ignoring other GOP candidates in favor of focusing squarely on Obama. In the Fox interview, Romney reiterated his criticism of Obama's statements empathizing with the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

"I think he made a huge mistake," Romney said. "Look, the president is always drawn to people who are looking to divide America and weaken America. All streets in America are connected. You don't attack streets in America. You don't attack fellow Americans."

Calling Obama "a rigid ideologue," Romney also attacked the Obama campaign's presumed strategy of seeking to focus on undermining him. "He can't talk about his record and get re-elected," he said. "So what he'll do is try and assassinate, on a character basis, his opponents and/or his opposition."

Romney also expressed sympathy for rival Rick Perry's mental lapse during a recent debate and his willingness to mention "EPA" as a way of prodding the Texas governor. "In those debates, you're probably operating with about 70 percent of your brain capacity, because, you know, you've got all the lights on, you never know what's going to come, there's a bit of pressure, as you might imagine," Romney said. "And so we're all prone to make a mistake or two."

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