DENVER--The Romney Response has begun.
Up until now, it was President Obama who had been saturating nine battleground states with television ads attacking his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. But Romney is finally responding in a big way.
During my current trip to Colorado, I spent part of an afternoon watching TV ads in Denver, the swing state's biggest market. It's clear that after weeks during which Obama's campaign and his allies pummelled Romney for being a heartless, out-of-touch millionaire who cares more about the rich than the middle class, Romney is fighting back very aggressively. Here's part of what I saw while monitoring Olympics coverage and the nightly news on KUSA, Channel 9 in Denver:
--An ad from Mitt Romney's campaign that blasts Obama for his controversial remark that America's business owners needed the help of "somebody else," including government, to build their enterprises. Jack Gilchrist, identified as a small business owner, is shown asking why Obama wants to "demonize" business and saying he wants a president who believes in people like him..
--Another Republican ad on KUSA quoting network TV anchor Scott Pelley that Obama is presiding over "the worst economic recovery America has ever had."
--Still another GOP ad by the Republican National Committee pointing to the nation's economic problems including a $15 trillion national debt and more than 8 per cent unemployment. The tag line: "It's okay to make a change" from President Obama.
--A positive ad trumpeting Romney's background as a businessman, the leader of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and governor of Massachusetts. "We believe in our future," Romney says. "We believe in ourselves."
Romney and allied groups spent more than twice the amount of money on TV ads as Obama and his allies last week, $30.3 million compared with $13.6 million, according to an analysis by National Journal.
But Obama remains a strong presence on TV. One ad running in Colorado, which I saw during the local news on KUSA, features a young woman who criticizes Romney's stands on social issues, such as opposing the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing a women's right to choose an abortion. She argues that politicians should be focusing on other issues rather than limiting women's rights.
Another ad on KUSA features Obama talking directly into the camera and saying that Romney advocates a "top down" approach to the economy in which the rich and big business get the breaks. Obama goes on to argue that the nation tried that approach under the Republicans in the past and it created a huge economic mess from which the nation is still trying to recover.
This kind of negative air campaign is going on all over the country, waged by both major-party candidates particularly in the swing states, including Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and North Carolina. Spending on TV ads exceeded $3 million in each of those states last week, according to a National Journal study. The ad wars were even more intense and expensive in Florida and Ohio, two of the biggest swing states.
Romney campaigned in Colorado last week. Obama returns this week. Both sides are also investing heavily in grass-roots organizing, such phone banks and door-to-door canvassing.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.