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 attacks Mitt Romney for sending jobs to China and a veterans group accuses a Montana Senate candidate of preferring to raise his own pay rather than fund prosthetic limbs for injured soldiers.
The Ad: Barack Obama, "Revealed - VA"
The Issues: Romney's ability and desire to grow jobs.
The Message: The ad shows a clip of a Romney ad promising to create jobs, then extensively quotes about a Washington Post story (posted Monday -- how's that for rapid response?) saying that Bain Capital was an outsourcing pioneer when Romney was running it. The ad is arguing not just that Romney can't grow jobs, but that maybe he doesn't even want to. "Does Virginia really want an Outsourcer-In-Chief in the White House?"
Who'll See It: The TV ads are customized for TV viewers in Virginia and Ohio, and they're customized in each state. Like a recent Romney ad for Ohio, the Obama Ohio ad focuses on China as a job thief. The campaigns' focus groups or polls must show people in Ohio really hate China.
Who It's For: Swing voters who think Romney has better ideas to grow the economy.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Solid Romney fans will wonder what Obama's slim private sector résumé taught him. Romney's campaign argues that outsourcing is different from offshoring.
The Effect: Since the ad relies so heavily on a newspaper report, it seems more authoritative (if you don't think the Post is part of the liberal media, at least). B
The Ad: VoteVets, "Lucky"
The Issues: Rep. Denny Rehberg, who's challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in Montana, and his compassion for soldiers.
The Message: The progressive veterans' group charges that Rehberg voted against funding for research into prosthetic limbs, which many soldiers need after getting blown up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rehberg is a "millionaire," the ad says, who voted to raise his pay five times. In other words: this wussy politician thinks his job is more important than soldiers' legs.
Who'll See It: The group is paying $100,000 to air the ad in Missoula, Billings, Butte, and Great Falls, Politico's James Hohmann reports.
Who It's For: Swing voters who might be swayed by ads attacking Tester as too Obama-friendly for Montana.
What Everyone Else Thinks: We need to make tough choices to cut federal spending.
The Effect: The ad is pretty heavy-handed. But it makes Rehberg -- whose ads have portrayed him as a nice guy above the partisan fray -- as vain and unwilling to take care of the people who fought in our wars. B+