Newt Gingrich fights back in Iowa


Newt Gingrich is wading into the ad wars. (Stephen Morton/AP)

The money will go to 30-second spots airing from tomorrow through next Monday. The focus is on Des Moines — the average person will see the Gingrich ad ten times in a week in that market — but there will also be heavy rotation in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City with smaller buys in Davenport and the Rochester-Mason City market. Gingrich is also airing ads on Fox News, ESPN and the History Channel.

Gingrich was slow to get into the ad game, seeing his poll numbers rise for weeks on debate performances and earned media but without any paid televisision communication of his own.

Harsh negative attacks from both Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and a super PAC — known as “Restore Our Future” -- supporting former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appear to have done damage to Gingrich in the state, however.

A Huffington Post report today finds many Iowa voters using the word “baggage” to describe Gingrich, echoing a “Restore our Future” ad that described the former speaker as the candidate Obama wants to face.

This ad buy amounts to a ramping up for the Gingrich campaign in Iowa. From Dec. 5 to Dec. 11, he spent only $64,240 on ads (all in Iowa), according to data provided to the Post by the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

Romney, by comparison, has spent nearly $200,000 on ads in Iowa as of Dec. 11. “Restore Our Future” has plans to spend another $3.1 million in Iowa on ads before the caucuses. Paul has also spent heavily in Iowa for months.

Gingrich acknowledged on a conference call with Iowa supporters on Saturday that the negative attacks were taking a toll on his campaign.

And, one Gingrich ally acknowledged that “there is no doubt there’s been a drop” in his Iowa numbers but quickly added: “Almost nobody is reporting that 50-plus percent remain undecided.”

Gingrich and his team are hoping the new ads coupled with the emergence of ads from super PAC supporting Gingrich will help to balance the playing field.

But, it doesn’t look good on that front. If Gingrich wins Iowa, he’ll do so being heavily outspent by his rivals and their affiliated organizations.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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