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Romney to run his first TV ad of presidential race

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, looks on as Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., endorse him outside City Hall in Nashua, N.H., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. Watching at left is Ayotte's husband Joe. Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, looks on as Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., endorse him outside City Hall in Nashua, N.H., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. Watching at left is Ayotte's husband Joe. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
By Philip Elliott
Associated Press / November 21, 2011

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MANCHESTER, N.H.—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is turning President Barack Obama's own words against him in the Republican hopeful's TV first ad of his 2012 White House bid.

Romney's first television ad is set to start airing in New Hampshire on Tuesday, hours before the president visits the state. The commercial compares Obama's promises as a candidate -- to turn around the economy, stem foreclosures and rescue the middle class -- with economic statistics that suggest the incumbent president has come up short.

Romney then pledges a new direction, turning to his biography as a successful businessman.

"I'm going to do something to government," he says in the ad, using footage taken during a recent stop in Dubuque, Iowa. He then promises to repeal Democrats' health care overhaul that he says is "killing jobs."

"It's high time to bring those principles of fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C.," Romney says.

Romney's 60-second ad features clips of an Obama campaign stop in Londonderry, N.H., in October 2007 and fresh footage from Romney events from recent days. It's slated to run through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at a cost of $134,000.

"The contrast between what he said and what he did is so stark, people will recognize we really do need to have someone new lead this country," Romney said in an interview with Fox News Channel to introduce the ads Monday evening.

Romney, who is at the top of state polls and is sitting on a mound of campaign cash, has kept his focus on Obama over the past year and largely has shied from criticizing his GOP rivals.

"I want people to remember that when he was candidate Obama, that he said he was going to get this economy going, he was going to bring people together, be a real leader for change in America," Romney said.

Obama is set to arrive in New Hampshire on Tuesday to deliver an economic speech. For months, Romney has given interviews to local reporters in states Obama had on his schedule, either pre-empting the president's message or rebutting it.

On Tuesday, Romney planned to use one-time rival Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to make the case for Romney as a superior choice. Both have backed Romney's presidential bid.

Yet Romney elected to use his first paid television ad not to promote himself or criticize his rivals but to take on the man he hopes to face in November 2012.

"Clearly, the president can't run on his track record," Romney said. "His track record is miserable. ... So what he'll do is try and assassinate, on a character basis, his opponents and/or his opposition. I'm hoping that's me, but I'm not looking forward to those attacks."

Even in a softer interview with People magazine, Romney kept his criticism on point. Asked by the celebrity magazine to say something nice about his potential rival, Romney praised Obama's merit pay for teachers and said Obama was "a good example of a husband and father."

Then he went back to his familiar refrain.

"But the plusses are far exceeded by the places where I'd give him a minus," Romney said.

The interview included some nonpolitical questions about his Mormon faith.

"Never had drinks or tobacco," Romney told the magazine when asked if he's ever had a beer. "It's a religious thing. I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once, as a wayward teenager, and never did it again."

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