The general election has begun! And so has the onslaught of campaign ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: The wars of Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital continue with a new ad from President Obama's Super PAC and a response from Romney. Plus, Obama reaches out to seniors and veterans.
The Ad: Priorities USA, "Loris and Ampad"
The Issues: Romney's record at Bain Capital.
The Message: Loris Huffman explains that she had worked 34 years at the Ampad plant in Marion, Indiana, before Bain took it over. (Employees were fired, and allowed to reapply for lower wages and fewer benefits.) Huffman says she found herself at 60-years-old with no health care. "When Mitt Romney did that, he… he made me sick," Huffman says. As many have noted, Huffman's voice is shaking when she says Romney made her sick. It is not polite to say it, but her head is shaking too. You're left to wonder if she came down with a serious illness, and what that illness might be. I haven't been able to find the details on Huffman's health. That's probably the point of the ad -- to make you wonder.
Who'll See It: The pro-Obama Super PAC initially announced a $4 million ad campaign in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia last week. The group will pour $3 million more into Bain-related ads, Politico's Alexander Burns reports Wednesday.
Who It's For: Working class people in swing states, people who have grandmas, people who've ever lived without health insurance.
What Everyone Else Thinks: If Huffman is sick, you can't claim that Romney wanted her to be sick.
The Effect: The ad doesn't explain much about Bain -- which is telling, it assumes people are pretty familiar with the details of Romney's private sector experience already. It is very easy to relate to Huffman, who seems like a nice, sincere grandma who is also very sad. A
Note: Additionally, this week the Obama campaign is spending $150,000 more on a two-minute ad released earlier about the GST steel plant in Kansas City that closed after being bought by Bain, CNN's Kevin Bohn reports. It will air in Ohio and West Virginia markets. Last week, the campaign spent less than $100,000 on the ad to air in Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. So the Bain attacks continue both from Obama and the Super PAC.
The Ad: Mitt Romney, "Stories from the Obama Economy"
The Issues: The economy.
The Message: Romney sees Obama's workers devastated by Bain and raises him some workers devastated by the recession. The ad shows Obama saying Bain "is what this election will be about," and says, No, the election is about the economy under the Obama administration. It shows short clips of people saying they've had to work part-time or file bankruptcy.
Who'll See It: Reporters and political junkies. The one-minute ad appears to be just for the Web. NBC News' Chuck Todd points out that the Romney campaign is airing ads in just four states: Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Who It's For: Reporters. The Romney campaign wants to shift the current campaign coverage, which has been focused on Bain for a week and a half.
What Everyone Else Thinks: The weird split-screen effect is distracting.
The Effect: While using clips of a lot of people conveys that economic hardship is widespread, the ad doesn't have the emotional impact of a longer interview with a single person, like the one the campaign featured in its ad about the auto supplier Delphi. C
The Ad: Barack Obama, "Personal"
The Issues: Medicare
The Message: Obama protects seniors from health car scammers "who prey on seniors." The ad throws in a little character message: "And to a president raised by his grandparents, it's personal, too."
Who'll See It: The ad is part of Obama's $25 million purchase of four weeks of airtime in these swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Politico's Mike Allen reports.
Who It's For: Old folks! Obama is strongest among young people and weak among seniors.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Since when was Medicare an big issue in this election?
The Effect: It's a standard positive ad with a narrator talking about the politician's accomplishments over stock footage. C
The Ad: Barack Obama, "Sacred Trust"
The Issues: Taking care of veterans after they fight wars.
The Message: Obama takes care of soldiers by protecting veterans' benefits. The president tells the camera, "It's not enough just to make a speech about how we value veterans. It's not enough just to remember them on Memorial Day."
Who'll See It: People in the swing states noted in the Medicare ad above.
Who It's For: Military families, people who are sentimental about soldiers, people who thought maybe Obama took a little too much credit for Osama bin Laden's death instead of giving it to the military.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Obama might give members of the military benefits, but he's cut the generals out of discussions on how to pull out of Afghanistan.
The Effect: This ad is better than the Medicare one, because it features Obama talking instead of an anonymous narrator. But it's still fairly standard -- and so not every memorable. C+