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: President Obama and the Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity fight over who understands the little guy best, while a conservative women's group gently condemns Obamacare without speaking its name.

The Ad: Barack Obama, "Come and Go"

The Issues: Jobs and Mitt Romney's ability to create them.

The Message: Romney's 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor had the "exact same pitch" as his current presidential campaign: That he knows how to create jobs. "But as a corporate raider he shipped jobs to China and Mexico. As governor, he did the same thing: outsourcing state jobs to India." Another ad, "Mosaic," says that as Massachusetts governor, Romney cut taxes for millionaires but raised taxes for regular people. 

Who'll See It: TV viewers in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Who It's For: This ad ties together several Obama campaign themes: that at Bain Capital, Romney closed factories in an unprincipled way, that that Bain experience matters because Romney did the same thing as governor, and that Romney's campaign promise to cut jobs shouldn't be trusted. So while it's mostly aimed at changing the minds of the plurality of voters who think Romney has better ideas to fix the economy, it's also a justification for Bain attacks. Note how one still image of Romney shows him in front of a building with "EXECUTIVE" in gold letters, as seen above.

What Everyone Else Thinks: The term "corporate raider" is like so 1989.

The Effect: The ad is a standard boring ad, but it ties the last couple months of the campaign together well. B+


The Ad: Americans for Prosperity, "Doing Fine"

The Issues: Obama said "the private sector is doing fine," when compared with public sector job loss, earlier this month. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have put out ads focused on this comment, too.

The Message: Obama is out of touch with the economic struggles regular Americans face. "Maybe your family is like most, struggling to get by… How can our president be so out of touch? … The private sector is not doing fine."

Who'll See It: The TV ad will air for 10 days in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It will mean AFP has spent $20 million in ads against Obama since last fall.

Who It's For: Voters with doubts about Obama's ability to fix the economy. Maybe he's not even trying?

What Everyone Else Thinks: According to charts based on math, Obama was pretty much correct.

The Effect: The ad plays Obama's words three times, which will help it stick in the minds of voters. But it uses a monster movie narrator and is not visually interesting at all. C+


 

The Ad: Concerned Women for America, "Care"

The Issues: Obamacare.

The Message: "Everyone agreed we needed reforms. But this new health care law, it just isn't fixing things," Dr. Ami Seims tells the camera. Seims says the law could mean she won't be able to serve some patients. "We need real reform that improves care. And the president's health care law just isn't it. It just isn't worth it." 

Who'll See It: CWA is spending $6 million to run the one-minute ad in Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The campaign starts Wednesday.

Who It's For: Seims never says the word "Obamacare." She also admits that the health care system needed fixing. It seems yet another conservative group has found that harsh attacks on Obama don't work as well as a message of "he tried, but it didn't work, and we're disappointed."

What Everyone Else Thinks: What alternative reform is out there?

The Effect: The ad is by ladies for ladies. It's short on specifics, but presents a woman-friendly case against Obama, who enjoys far more support among women than Romney. A-