Paul targets Romney, GOP candidates with ad

March 1, 2012 - 6:06 PM
Washington Next Up

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. Caucuses in neighboring Washington state will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2012. At stake are 40 delegates to the Republican national nominating convention later this summer, a cache second only to Florida's 50 in contests thus far. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — TITLE: "Three of A Kind"

LENGTH: 60 seconds.

AIRING: Broadcast and cable in Washington state.

KEY IMAGES: Black-and-white images of Ron Paul's three Republican rivals flash across the screen. A narrator rips each of them along now-familiar lines: "One is a serial hypocrite who lobbied for Freddie Mac before the housing crisis and for the individual mandate before ObamaCare," he says over an image of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"Another, a counterfeit conservative who opposes right to work massively increased spending and funded Planned Parenthood," he says over images of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

"Finally, a flip-flopper who's been on all sides, supported TARP bailouts and provided the blueprint for ObamaCare," he says as images of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appear, concluding: "Three men, one vision: more big government, more mandates, less freedom."

The second half of the ad is a departure in tone, featuring epic music behind color images of Paul talking with voters and speaking at campaign rallies. "One man stands apart, ready to deliver real change, voting against every tax increase and every unbalanced budget every time," the narrator says. "A real plan to cut a trillion dollars, year one, and to balance the budget in three. Pro-life, pro-right to work, guided by faith and principle. Ron Paul, the one who will restore American now."

ANALYSIS: An also-ran in recent contests, Ron Paul has said his strategy is to accumulate delegates and plow forward toward this summer's Republican convention in Tampa. This ad, running in Washington state, where the GOP will hold caucuses on Saturday before more high-profile contests on Super Tuesday, is clearly targeted to get the most delegates for his dollars.

The ad is a scattershot that seeks to hit the remaining Republican candidates with charges that are largely accurate. As Paul says, Gingrich did back a mandate that individuals have health insurance and advocated it as recently as in his 2008 book. Santorum has acknowledged voting for congressional spending. But he now casts himself as a deficit hawk and notes that his vote for Planned Parenthood funding was a tiny part of a much larger spending bill. Romney has battled the perception that he is a flip-flopper, arguing that he doesn't advocate expanding the Massachusetts healthcare plan he supported as governor to a national scale.

Paul's attacks on Romney are particularly notable because until now he's been reluctant to attack the front-runner. He put up an ad attacking Santorum in Michigan, for example, but did not target Romney. At the most recent GOP debate in Arizona, Paul also declined to attack Romney when given the opportunity.

In the second half of the ad, Paul casts himself as the unique true conservative in the race.

Because it is a caucus state and because it falls before the 10-state Super Tuesday voting, Washington has received less attention from the other Republican aspirants. Paul is clearly trying to fill that vacuum and pile up as many of the 40 available delegates as possible — or even score his first win.