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CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK

New ad by Romney to go on air

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney, eager to establish credentials as a fiscal conservative in the Republican presidential race, will begin running a new ad today in which he vows to cut spending and taxes.

The 30-second spot will slip into Romney's current ad rotation in Iowa and New Hampshire, key early states where he already has spent more than $2 million on commercials.

The former Massachusetts governor has been the most aggressive television campaigner of either party, going up with his ads early and spending more than $4 million on his media campaign.

"Government is simply too big; state government is too big, the federal government is too big," Romney says in the ad. "It's spending too much. I'm going to cut spending, I'm going to cut taxes."

A current ad, called "Tested, Proven," will also continue to run.

Of all of Romney rivals, Senator John McCain has been one of his main targets. But the new ad also seems subtly designed to offset the popularity of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has emerged as a credible leader among some conservative voters.

The McCain campaign criticized Romney yesterday, noting that state spending increased while he was Massachusetts governor. Romney inherited a huge budget deficit and though he refused to raise taxes, he raised fees for state services and closed some tax loopholes that critics say amounted to a hidden tax increase.

"It appears Mitt Romney is trying to re-create his record as governor," McCain spokesman Matt David said. "This ad demonstrates that he's willing to say and do anything in an effort to win the nomination." (AP)

Clintons plan appearance
CONCORD, N.H. -- After a month of tag-team appearances, former president Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton will make their first joint campaign trip to New Hampshire next month.

The former president has made two trips to New Hampshire in recent weeks, but neither visit coincided with appearances by his wife.

The couple plan to campaign together in Iowa July 2 to 4 and will travel to New Hampshire on July 13, said campaign spokeswoman Mo Elleithee. (AP)

Gingrich raps McCain bill
WASHINGTON -- In a cable television ad, potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich criticizes the immigration bill backed by GOP candidate John McCain, arguing that it threatens national security.

The 60-second commercial opens with photographs of some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. "Mohammad Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers were in the United States illegally," says Gingrich, the former House speaker. "Today, more than five years since that tragic day, our borders remain open to gangs, drug dealers, and terrorists.

"But instead of protecting the borders, the new McCain-Kennedy immigration plan will instead put millions of people who are in our country illegally, including potential terrorists and gang members, on a path to US citizenship," he says.

A Senate vote is expected this week on the measure, which would grant lawful status to millions of illegal immigrants while stiffening border security and creating new ways to weed out illegal workers at their jobs. (AP)

Primary moves questioned
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Senator John McCain said yesterday that Florida's decision to move up its 2008 primary to Jan. 29 was part of a strange national trend that gives voters little time to pick the best candidate for their party.

"We are now going to choose the nominees of our parties either in late January or in early February and our conventions are in August and September. That's a little bizarre," McCain said on the first stop of his two-day fund-raising effort in Florida.

"In principle, this process should be drawn out a lot longer so people have a better chance to examine the candidates," McCain said. (AP)

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