Why are the presidential candidates spending so much time raising so much money? To buy TV ads. In Ad Watch, we review the results of their heroic efforts as they come out. Today: Mitt Romney's business experience turning around troubled companies was supposed to be his main selling point this election. But his first ad about Bain Capital is one defending himself from President Obama's attacks on him as an "outsourcing pioneer," while the Democratic National Committee is gleefully recounting all of Romney's offshore accounts in fancy foreign accents.
The Ad: Mitt Romney, "No Evidence"
The Issues: The Obama campaign's claims that Romney was an outsourcing pioneer.
The Message: "When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him?… There was 'no evidence' that Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas," the ad says, citing a FactCheck.org story about Obama's ad based on a June 21 Washington Post story. Then the ad shows a clip of Hillary Clinton angry about Obama's attacks in 2008 -- the second time a clip of her saying "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" has been featured in a Romney ad. ABC News' Rick Klein points out that this ad, Romney's first about Bain, is "pure defense." Romney probably would have preferred to introduce his history in a different context -- like that he could turn around troubled businesses, therefore he could turn around America.
Who'll See It: It's a TV ad. It will likely air in swing states.
Who It's For: Polls show Obama's attacks on Romney's business career are working. In swing states, where the ads have aired, voters see Romney's resume more negatively.
What Everyone Else Thinks: It's funny that Romney's ad calling Obama a liar comes out the same day the Boston Globe suggests Romney's not telling the truth about the exact date he left Bain. Romney says he left in 1999, which is one reason FactCheck.org said the Obama ads were false. But the Globe reports that in Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Romney's listed as the guy in charge of Bain until 2002, and he still received an executive salary until then.
The Effect: Citing The Washington Post and the fact-checking website makes the ad look authoritative. The Clinton part grabs your attention, but it's distracting. B-
The Ad: Democratic National Committee, "Mitt Romney's $ecret $tash"
The Issues: Romney's overseas accounts, past and present, in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, etc.
The Message: "Why won't Mitt Romney disclose more information about his international dealings?" the male narrator asks suspiciously. In case you didn't catch the "international" part, the screen zooms to the various exotic locales where Romney's money is located, and then a narrator speaks in either a foreign language or a fancy British accent what Romney funds are based there.
Who'll See It: This is a Web video, so only those who are looking for it.
Who It's For: Reporters, so they'll ask more questions and keep talking about Romney's offshore accounts.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Romney had the remarkable luck of getting a pithy, even tweet-worthy question framing this issue at a town hall in Colorado this week: "So why is the Obama team and the liberal media want us to think that we should be more angry with what you do with your money than what Obama has done with mine?"
The Effect: Cheesy, ugly. If you're going to replace an S with a $, go all-out with Scrooge McDuck jumping into a swimming pool full of coins or $omething. D