Conservative super PAC takes softer tone against Obama

The advent of super PACs, the conventional wisdom goes, should mean that this election cycle will be nastier than ever. The latest ad from Crossroads GPS, however, shows that independent groups won't always turn to vicious attacks simply because they can.

The Karl Rove-linked group on Tuesday announced it is spending $9.7 million to run an "issue ad" in 10 swing states for three weeks, focusing on how President Obama's policies have let down middle class families.

The ad, called "Basketball," was produced with Larry McCarthy, the New York Times reports -- the man behind the infamous 1998 Willie Horton ad. This new ad, however -- the result of extensive focus group research -- is much softer in tone.

The ad features a woman portraying a mother who ages as she watches her children play basketball -- and watches them grow from children to adults still living at home, unable to find jobs.

"I always loved watching the kids play basketball. I still do, even though things have changed," the mother says, as she ages on camera. "I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully. He promised change. But things changed for the worse."

The ad blames Mr. Obama's policies, specifically his health care overhaul and the 2009 stimulus, for the rising national debt. "This ad drives home the impact President Obama's policies are having on American families and why those policies need to be changed," Crossroads GPS president Steven Law said in a statement.

Since Crossroads GPS is a tax-exempt nonprofit group, it can spend money on politics, but the majority of its money must be spent on policy issues. The group is not required to reveal its donors -- unlike its sister group American Crossroads, which is a political group.

The softer tone of the new Crossroads ad isn't surprising, given that other Republican polling firms have also found that Mr. Obama's likability factor could be a problem for Romney and the GOP if voters like him enough to look past their disappointments in his performance.

Meanwhile, the super PAC supporting Mr. Obama is attacking Romney for his record at Bain Capital -- just as the president's own campaign is -- in spite of some mild criticisms from other Democrats.

Priorities USA released a two-minute web video Tuesday using remarks from Romney's Republican primary opponents to attack Romney for his business experience.

"Even Republicans know Mitt Romney has not explained how his experience profiting from companies driven to bankruptcy qualifies him to be president," Bill Burton, a senior strategist for Priorities USA Action, said in a statement. "If Romney makes business experience the central reason for his campaign, voters have every right to question the many deals where Romney made millions while workers lost their jobs and promised benefits."