Why are the presidential candidates spending so much time raising so much money? To buy TV ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: We've already seen the trailer for President Romney's first day in office -- now here's the sneak peek at the first 100. Plus, a Montana Republican campaigns against the sacred Ryan budget plan, and President Obama demands reporters demand to know Romney's position on immigration.
The Ad: Mitt Romney, "First 100 Days: Ohio"
The Issues: Romney's already aired spots imagining his first day in office. Here's the next 99.
The Message: In his first days in office, a President Romney "stands up to China" and "demands a level playing field for our businesses and workers" so the Ohio is a "better place to do business." By the end of his honeymoon period, jobs would be coming back to Ohio.
Who'll See It: TV viewers in Ohio.
Who It's For: The Romney campaign has customized "First 100 Days" TV ads for four swing states: Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, and North Carolina. Each promises something special for the state -- Virginia gets offshore drilling, North Carolina gets banking and high tech jobs, Ohio's ad doesn't mention Obamacare.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Presidents have very little control over the economy, especially in a timeframe like 100 days.
The Effect: This is the positive vision for his administration that so many conservatives demanded from Romney at the start of the general election. It's friendly, but boring. B-
The Ad: Montana Republican Party, "Montana First"
The Issues: Rep. Denny Rehberg, who's running for Senate against Democratic incumbent Jon Tester, is not a scary conservative Republican.
The Message: Rehberg is an "independent thinker," the ads says, and then lists a whole bunch of Republican things he's voted against, including "Bush's Wall Street bailout plan" and Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan "that could harm the Medicare program so many of Montana's seniors rely on." Lots of politicians have campaigned against Wall Street bailouts, but a Republican campaigning against the Ryan budget is kind of huge. Politico's James Hohmann says the ad "could cause heartburn for the 228 members of Congress who voted for Paul Ryan's budget in March." Rehberg was one of 10 Republicans who voted against it, and his party has not always been kind to critics of it. Newt Gingrich nearly killed his campaign by calling the proposal "right-wing social engineering" a year ago.
Who'll See It: The TV ad will run statewide for a week at the cost of about $196,000 to the state party, Roll Call reports.
Who It's For: The huge majority of voters who have a low opinion of Congress, plus those who might be conservative but not as conservative as House Republicans.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Yet another politician claiming not to be a politician.
The Effect: The ad manages to cram in a lot of data points showing Rehberg's independence in 30 seconds. I personally prefer all ads about Western politicians to contain more crinkly-eyed smiles and plaid shirts than offered in this ad. B+
The Ad: Barack Obama, "Mitt Romney on US Immigration Policy: Why Won't He Give a Straight Answer?"
The Issues: What Romney thinks about Obama's executive order stopping the deportation of young immigrants who were brought here as children. Romney won't say whether he'd keep the policy.
The Message: Romney has been hedging on the immigration issue for a week. Don't you want to keep asking him questions about it until he commits -- or at least makes a funny gaffe trying to avoid doing so?
Who'll See It: It's a Web video, so reporters and Obama fans.
Who It's For: Reporters, so they'll keep asking Romney about immigration.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Asking for Romney's clear position on the policy is not the same thing as making the case for the policy.
The Effect: Despite being a naked attempt to skew political coverage, the ticking-clock concept is pretty good, making the ad entertaining and memorable. A-