As the Republican primary heats up, that can only mean more ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? We'll be reviewing them as they come out. In the inaugural Ad Watch, here are today's newest campaign appeals. 

The Ad: Rick Perry, "Strong"

The Issues: Don't Ask Don't Tell, prayer in schools, the War on Christmas

The Message: Rick Perry, who previously appeared in the stirring rainmaker drama "The Response," here plays himself as a rugged type, sporting a calfskin cowboy jacket and standing by a babbling brook that's somewhere in Connemara, Ireland judging by the green of the grass. Though his choice of jacket clearly asserts that Perry is a fan of Brokeback Mountain, he still expresses frustration over the fact that gay people can serve openly in the military, and yet kids, specifically Christian kids, can't pray in schools. And then there is the War on Christmas that's successfully being waged -- you may have noticed all the Chanukah specials on TV, the Saturnalia sex yurts replacing Christmas trees on every street corner, and the impending release of the godless secular demon movie New Year's Eve. In this ad, "Strong," Perry promises to fight Obama's war on religion (meaning Obama's support for repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell) and "liberal attacks on our religious heritage," that heritage of course being Christmas, mandated prayer in public schools, and religiously justified slavery Sunday supper. Perry does not elaborate on how he will fight that good fight, but does assure us that he's "not ashamed to admit" he's a Christian, which only he and a ragtag group of some 200 million other Americans are brave enough to do. 

Who It's For: The strong Christian base of the Republican party, those "values voters" who care about the economy of course, but are more afraid of darker, more metaphysically sinister threats to their way of life. 

What Everyone Else Sees: A religious cowboy simpleton blustering about nonexistent attacks on the nation's most dominant religion. 

The Effect: The admitting is what's important here; Perry is showing us that he is indeed "Strong" by sticking to the courage of his faith convictions. Obviously gay people don't take walks on green, green riverbanks ever, so the Brokeback jacket similarity probably just means Perry's a film buff or something. Yessir, he comes across as righteous and noble and devoutly American as an apple pie with a handgun baked into it in this ad. He gets an A-, the minus because it's weird to have him say he approved this message immediately after he's just said the message himself. Pretty sure it's implied consent when you yourself say the words into the camera, Governor Perry. Yeah, you have to get that in there for legal reasons, but maybe don't say it while looking into the camera right after you've finished talking. 


 

The Ad: Mitt Romney, "Leader"

The Issues: Consistency, dependability, how long the candidate has been married

The Message: One of Mormon Superman Mitt Romney's biggest criticisms of other folks is that they're flip-floppers. No one ever says what they mean or means what they say, etc. But not old Gray Sides. No, in this ad, which is just a clip from a recent debate intercut with old family footage of the Hessian-seeming Romney clan, he positions himself as a hold-steady kinda guy. He's been married for 25 42 years, he only had one job before quitting to "save the Olympic games" (they were trapped in a well or something), and has been at the same church for like forever. This all means he's not a flip-flopper, or a hem-hawer. He's a straight and consistent shooter, ol' Capt. Sternjaw is. And he'll carry that consistency to the White House. He also gets in a good plug for his book by saying he'll never apologize for America, which is a reference to the title of his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. Very businessy of you, Mittles. 

Who It's For: Other than the Republican base that still isn't sold on Romney because he was way too liberal for their liking as governor of Massachusetts? Eh, probably the big business types who want a suit just like them in the White House. 

What Everyone Else Sees: An emotionless yet oddly desperate robot man pledging to never violate his prime directive. 

The Effect: Playing an old debate clip is sorta boring. Like, Perry's wearing rugged clothes on some hill in Middle Earth! All Romney's campaign did was use One True Media to make a tribute video. Plus that's a weird debate clip to show. Obviously the little wedding anniversary slip-up was meant to seem genial and human (Romney has a problem not seeming like a White Walker from Game of Thrones), but the mixup was mechanical, not human. He didn't say "41, whoops, 42 years, huh huh." He said "25" because that's a number later in his speech. It was a glitch, a little system hiccup. It makes him seem more robotic. This ad gets a C-. It only did so well because pictures of family are always a hit and the book plug is admirably shameless. 


 

The Ad: Jon Huntsman, "Mitting Image" 

The Issues: Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper, his past policies go against his current campaign statements

The Message: Another clip reel, this one culled from more places than Romney's ad, "Mitting Image" (heh) takes aim at Romney's constant attempts to position himself as a stalwart, though there is plenty of footage of various people (Erik Erikson and Greta van Susteren make cameos) wondering aloud about Romney's free-wheelin' political past. Oh also there is lots of footage of Romney himself saying one thing and then saying the complete opposite a few years later, all while accusing someone else of flip-flopping. Lotta layers in this ad. But the basic gist is that Romney doesn't really mean anything he's saying, he's just trying to get your vote.

Who It's For: People who've bought Romney's consistency rhetoric and need to have the veil lifted. 

What Everyone Else Sees: A second-rate Daily Show-style contradictory clip reel set to dramatic muzak. 

The Effect: Sure it's fun to see Mitt Romney hang himself with his own words, but there's one big problem with this ad. Uh, who the hell is Jon Huntsman? Nothing is said of this mysterious and unseen candidate! Oh well. B-