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McCain's "Secret" Spot Highlights Rush Of Latest Ads

Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama are both launching multiple TV ads in Iowa as the caucuses near, but the highlight of the bunch might be an ad for John McCain that may not even air at all.

The race in New Hampshire between Mitt Romney and McCain appears to be tightening, and according to one report, McCain's campaign is considering going after their top rival with a blistering ad highlighting Romney's shifts on several key issues – one that was made months ago by staffers who have since joined Romney's team.

Slate's John Dickerson reports that he received a rough copy of the ad (now posted on YouTube) from McCain's team, who told him that they decided not to run the spot earlier this year because it would be too early in the process for such a negative piece. But now that Romney has accused McCain of failing "Reagan 101" and not upholding conservative principles, that decision may be under reconsideration.

The ad was crafted last summer by Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer, two veterans of President Bush's 2004 campaign, and incorporates comments from Romney repudiating Reagan, supporting gun control and abortion rights, and clumsily explaining his record as a hunter – all with foreboding music in the background. The twist here is that Stevens and Schriefer drafted the ad before they bailed on McCain in August, only to join Romney's operation. It begs the question: Do Stevens and Schriefer have an ad made for Romney that tops their own effort? Now that the McCain ad has gone viral, we might soon find out.

As for ads that are actually on the air, Obama is launching two new commercials in Iowa. The first, "Interest," has a dual purpose: It touts Obama's health care plan while also casting blame on "outside groups" for, the ad says, "spending millions to stop change, including false attacks" on the health care proposal. The second, "Listening," pretty much sums up the argument Obama's been making since November's Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner – in fact, it makes wide use of clips from that speech, with Obama saying "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over," and ending with the candidate declaring "your future is our future, and our moment is now."

Like Obama, Mike Huckabee also tries to rise above the fray with two of his closing spots. In one, the former Arkansas governor invokes the Founding Fathers while also reminding voters of his religious convictions, saying, "Our Founding Fathers believed that your worth is something unique that was given to you by God and they new that these inalienable rights that we had came from that creator." In the second ad, Huckabee – the target of several Mitt Romney ads -- goes after negative advertising itself: "My opponents and Washington special interest groups have spent millions in desperate and dishonest attacks to tell you why shouldn't vote for me. My message is clear: Reject their negative campaign, quit tearing each other down and start now building up our country for our kids."