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NBC asks Romney campaign to remove its content from new ad

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at American Douglas Metals in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Charles Dharapak

Tom Brokaw, the NBC News personality, takes a starring role in Mitt Romney's latest Florida television advertisement--and he's not happy about it.

The ad hits Romney's main rival, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for the ethics violations he was reprimanded for in 1997. Gingrich was ordered to pay $300,000.

The entire ad is simply the opening of the Jan. 21, 1997 edition of NBC Nightly News.

But Brokaw--and NBC--pushed back. The network said its legal department will be asking the Romney campaign to remove NBC footage from the ad, noting that similar requests have gone out before to other campaigns using footage from NBC News broadcasts.

(VIDEO: What Would This Ad Look Like Without NBC Footage In It?)

"I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad," Brokaw said in a statement on Saturday. "I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign."

By Saturday afternoon, the Romney campaign said they had received NBC's letter.

"We just received the letter; we are reviewing it, but we believe it falls within fair use," senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said.

Gingrich has repeatedly contended the ethics inquiry was unfairly partisan -- an argument that the fact-checking website PolitFact labeled "Pants On Fire," its lowest rating for accuracy. He also has argued that the $300,000 was not a fine but a payment for the legal costs associated with the inquiry.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, asked to comment on the controversy, said Saturday: "I can't respond to it any better than NBC News did by asking them to pull it."

Hammond also cited a CNN report from February 1999 about the IRS ultimately concluding that the college course Gingrich allegedly taught for political purposes -- the subject of the ethics inquiry -- was legal. "[It] took a long time to get there. People forget that," Hammond said.