Why are the presidential candidates spending so much time to raise so much money? To buy TV ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: Mitt Romney pounces on President Obama's comment that the private sector is "fine," a pro-Obama Super PAC launches several ads attacking Romney as a jerk, and Allen West shows his warm and fuzzy side.
The Ad: Mitt Romney, "Jolt"
The Issues: Unemployment, an Obama gaffe.
The Message: A week after a bad jobs report came out, Obama said, "The private sector is doing fine, where we had weaknesses in our economy is state and local government." This quote was tweeted by a whole bunch of Republicans last week. Now, Romney is using it to say Obama is out of touch with Americans' economic pain.
Who'll See It: The campaign has not bought air time for the minute-long ad, so probably the people who will watch it are same reporters who were retweeting the campaigns' Twitter spat over the comment. The Obama campaign has its own gaffe-based ad, attacking Romney for suggesting we don't need more police, firefighters, or teachers.
Who It's For: Horserace analysts. It's about how quickly the campaigns can turn an official gaffe into an ad.
What Everyone Else Thinks: The private sector is actually doing quite well, while it public sector has shed tons of jobs, as Business Insider's Joe Wiesenthal shows with three nifty graphs.
The Effect: It's fine. B
The Ad: Priorities USA, Spanish ads in three states.
The Issues: How Mitt Romney feels about regular people.
The Message: The ads show Romney making one of his money gaffes -- "I’ll also tell my story: I’m also unemployed. Hahaha," for example, and then Spanish-speaking voters comment saying, essentially, he doesn't care about us. "When you are really out of work… you are worried, you don’t want to laugh or make fun of anybody," a man says.
Who'll See It: The pro-Obama Super PAC is working with SEIU to spend $4 million on advertising in Florida, Colorado, and Nevada.
Who It's For: Spanish-speaking people who are a growing part of the voting population but vote at lower rates. Plus, those Latinos who don't think Obama has done enough on immigration, as The New York Times' Julia Preston reports. Romney has his own Spanish-language ads attacking Obama on jobs.
What Everyone Else Thinks: You can't judge a man's character by a few bad jokes.
The Effect: The ads make Romney look like a jerk -- especially given that the subtitles on his unemployment joke include the hahahas -- but the voters interviewed take away some of the harshness of the ad. B
The Ad: Priorities USA Action, "Donnie"
The Issues: Romney's record at Bain Capital.
The Message: Romney isn't one of us and doesn't care about us. "This was a booming place. And Mitt Romney and Bain Capital turned it into a junkyard. Just making money and leaving," a man says while leaning against a chain link fence. The man is Donnie Box, who worked at GST Steel, a company that Bain took over and then went bankrupt. If that line was too subtle, there's this one: "They don’t live in this neighborhood. They don’t live in this part of the world."
Who'll See It: It's part of an ongoing $7 million ad campaign in olorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Politico reports.
Who It's For: Attacking Bain might not be popular in the Northeast, where financial services folks work, but it's very popular in the rest of the country. This is the group's third Bain ad. Combined with the Spanish-language ad above, which also portrays Romney as an outsider, it makes you wonder whether pro-Obama people are working to counteract the perception that the president is a snooty urbanite by making Romney look like an even snootier urbanite.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Here come the pitchforks.
The Effect: It's smart to use just one guy to tell the anti-Bain story. Box has an expressive face and is wearing one of those navy-and-gold military hats, so the ad is like a little character study. There's no creepy voiceover. It's not clear how many times voters can hear this version of the Bain story and still be moved by it. A-
The Ad: Allen West, "Just Getting Started"
The Issues: The Florida congressman's biography.
The Message: West is a nice guy, not a scary conservative. West is known for stirring up controversy, like when he suggested a significant portion of congressional Democrats were communists. The ad argues West is just a hard worker fighting for the people. Lots of military members smile at the camera.
Who'll See It: Floridians. This is going to be one of the most expensive congressional races in the country, Politico's James Hohmann writes.
Who It's For: Women. It makes West look warm and friendly.
What Everyone Else Thinks: The contrast between West's boyish face and high and tight haircut is striking.
The Effect: It's a good version of a fairly typical flag-waving ad. B