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New Romney ad implies differences with Gingrich

By Henry C. Jackson
Associated Press / December 7, 2011
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WASHINGTON—TITLE: "Leader"

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: On Iowa and New Hampshire broadcast and cable stations

KEY IMAGES: Mitt Romney in a recent debate, answering a question about the consistency of his political positions, spliced with images of old family movies of Romney and his wife, Ann, with their children and with Romney leading the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002. Romney's debate answer is the script, backed up by an uplifting score.

"I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy," the former Massachusetts governor says. "I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do."

He continues: "I've been married to the same woman for 25 - excuse me, I'll get in trouble - for 42 years. I've been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. And I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games. If I'm president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith, and to our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America."

ANALYSIS: With former House Speaker Newt Gingrich surging in polls, Romney presents a biographical ad that also offers a strong but implicit contrast to Gingrich, twice divorced and three times married. The ad portrays Romney as a dutiful family man and businessman, loyal through the years to one woman, one company and his country. The ad uses family video of the Romneys to humanize the candidate, showcasing his photogenic family.

In portraying him as person who is broadly loyal to key institutions in his life, the ad papers over the most consistent charge against Romney -- that he has flip-flopped on major issues. Democrats and Republicans alike have hit Romney for a series of switches on politically charged issues such as abortion rights and climate change.

Romney contrasts himself with Gingrich without naming him, hoping viewers will draw their own conclusions. Romney has thus far resisted criticizing any candidate, other than President Barack Obama, by name. This ad seems designed to help him highlight Gingrich's more tangled personal life while allowing him to maintain an above-it-all air. His reference to being "in the same church my entire life" appears to be an indirect poke at Gingrich's 2009 conversion to Catholicism, after being a Southern Baptist most of his life.

The spot includes a human moment from Romney, when he briefly stumbles on how long he has been married. It may be intended to dispel the notion that Romney is stiff and humorless.

Romney has previously run ads attacking Obama's handling of the economy and touting his own work in the private sector. The ad is Romney's first since Gingrich took convincing leads in a series of Iowa polls, where Jan. 3 caucuses will launch the presidential nominating contest.

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