Romney makes hometown appeal in new ad

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By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — TITLE: "Growing Up."

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: On cable and broadcast stations across Michigan.

KEY IMAGES: Mitt Romney is behind the wheel of a car, presumably one made in Detroit, on a street somewhere in Michigan and talking about growing up in the state. As the former Massachusetts governor narrates, scenes from the past flash across the screen: Romney with his dad, sepia-toned shots from the Detroit auto show, Chrysler workers leaving a plant and an aerial shot of the iconic General Motors tower in downtown Detroit.

"Now, when I grew up in Michigan, it was exciting to be here," Romney says. "I remember going to the Detroit Auto Show with my dad. That was a big deal. How in the world did an industry and its leaders and its unions get in such a fix that they lost jobs, that they lost their future?"

"President Obama did all these things that liberals have wanted to do for years," Romney continues. "The fact that you've got millions of Americans out of work, home values collapsing, people here in Detroit are distressed. I want to make Michigan stronger and better. Michigan has been my home, and this is personal."

ANALYSIS: Mitt Romney clearly wants to remind Michigan voters that he grew up there and his ad, the first one designed for the state's Feb. 28 primary, is an explicit home-town appeal. He reminisces about his father, a popular former governor and auto executive, name-checks the renowned auto show and uses imagery designed to remind voters of the Motor City's glory days. If that's not enough, he concludes by asserting that the state's fate is "personal" for him.

The ad comes at a delicate time for Romney. While he recovered somewhat by winning Maine's caucuses last weekend, he's still nursing wounds from Rick Santorum's sweep of nominating caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, and Missouri's non-binding primary. Santorum's momentum has pushed him ahead of Romney in a handful of national polls and in early Michigan surveys. If Romney is to regain momentum before the potentially decisive Super Tuesday primaries on March 6, when 10 states vote, he badly needs to win in Michigan.

If clipping Santorum is on Romney's mind, though, it doesn't show in the ad. Besides presenting himself as the hometown kid, Romney focuses on President Barack Obama and blames him for Detroit's woes. That gives the ad the feel of a general election spot.

He also implies that Obama's policies played a role in the auto industry's collapse, which is not the case. After noting the industry's decline in one breath, Romney then says Obama "did all these things that liberals have wanted to do for years." Regardless of the merits of Obama's policies, they didn't bring about Detroit's ills. The auto industry in general, and Chrysler and General Motors in particular, were collapsing before Obama took office in 2009. The decision to continue the bailout of GM and Chrysler, which Romney doesn't mention, was one of Obama's first major decisions in office. Romney publicly opposed the bailouts and reaffirmed his stance this week in an opinion piece published in The Detroit News.

In targeting Obama, Romney is appealing to GOP primary voters who want the candidate best equipped to take on the president. That argument has worked for Romney in some contests, particularly in Florida. But with Santorum running so close to him in the polls, it's unclear whether Romney can ignore his GOP rivals as he tries to secure the party's nomination.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look at the claims in political advertising.

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