The Washington Post

Ad wars: Whose has the most bite?

I hadn’t checked in on the Republican ad wars lately — the race hasn’t been driven by ads since Mitt Romney destroyed Newt Gingrich in Iowa with his super PAC assault. So last night, I watched two of the latest Florida ads, one from Romney; the other from Gingrich.

Without a clear sense of the media weight behind them, it is hard to judge their ultimate effectiveness, but if they were to run equally, then in my humble opinion, the Gingrich ad would be devastating and the Romney ad weak.

The reason for this conclusion has nothing to do with production values; both ads feature the standard negative political ad format of creepy music and damning news clips. Rather, it is the relative strength of the two arguments presented: Gingrich is attacked for being a Washington “insider”; Romney is portrayed as the sperm bank for Obamacare, seeding it with ideas and staff members.

Being a Washington insider, a dealmaker and lobbyist offends some Republicans, particularly those currently supporting Ron Paul. But being the surrogate father to the single largest Democratic provocation since Medicare offends all Republicans. There’s nothing new in the charge, but seeing it put together skillfully and succinctly is devastating.

According to the latest CNN poll, Romney got a bump out of his kitchen sink performance in the last debate. But effective ads wield another kitchen instrument: the sharp knife.


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