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3:13 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

SuperPAC Ads Fill Airwaves On Eve Of Super Tuesday

With 10 states holding Republican primaries or caucuses on March 6 — Super Tuesday — a lot of money is being spent on TV ads. The superPACs supporting the remaining GOP candidates have doled out some $12 million for ads in those states.

Leading the way is Restore Our Future, the superPAC that backs former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. According to Federal Election Commission numbers, Restore Our Future has spent $6.9 million on the Super Tuesday states.

"The groups have clearly taken the lead in advertising for the whole Republican primary. They're very much taking the lead in advertising for Super Tuesday. It's mostly the 'Restore Our Future show,' followed by Winning Our Future, which is the Gingrich group, and Red, White and Blue, which is the Santorum group," says Ken Goldstein, who tracks political ad spending for Kantar Media CMAG.

Red, White and Blue has spent some $1.3 million on Super Tuesday, and has been running an ad in Ohio that goes after Romney for his alleged similarities to the man all Republicans want to defeat in November: President Obama.

"How can Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama, when on the vital decisions they're not much different?" the ad asks. "Like Obama, Romney drastically increased spending, increased state taxes and fees. Even worse, 'Romneycare' is the blueprint for 'Obamacare.' Who can win? Rick Santorum, the principled leader who's fought against big government."

Restore our Future, meanwhile, has targeted Santorum in an ad running in Ohio that uses the former Pennsylvania senator's explanation during a debate last month for why he voted to give Planned Parenthood federal funds.

"Santorum says he's the principled conservative, but that's not how he voted," says the ad. "Here are Santorum's own words on voting to fund Planned Parenthood: 'While I have a personal moral objection to it, even though I don't support it, ... I voted for bills that included it.' Twenty years in Washington changed Santorum's principles."

Newt Gingrich, who hasn't had a victory since South Carolina in January, has focused most of his efforts on winning Georgia, the state he represented in Congress. The superPAC that backs him, Winning Our Future, has spent $1.1 million in the state, a little less than a third of the dollars it has spent overall on Super Tuesday.

"We're looking at 5- or 6-dollar-gas," says a woman in an ad by Winning Our Future. "Romney's not the type to pump his own gas. Newt's got a plan for American-made energy. More American jobs. Get the government out of the way. Newt's for paychecks, not food stamps. Newt's my man, no doubt about it."

While most superPAC ads throughout the primary season have been attacking candidates, Restore Our Future has been running a positive message in Ohio about Romney, whose approval ratings have plummeted since the primary season began. It highlights an episode when, as CEO of Bain Capital, Romney suspended the company's operations to find a missing girl, the daughter of an employee.

"Mitt's done a lot of things people say are nearly impossible, but for me, the most important thing he's ever done is to help save my daughter," says the employee. The ad closes with a voice saying, "Restore Our Future is responsible for the content of this message."

Kantar Media's Goldstein says it will be interesting to see, if Romney does restore his mantle of inevitability on Tuesday, how his ads and those of the superPAC that supports him might change.

"What's the strategy of the Romney campaign?" Goldstein asks. "What's the strategy of Restore Our Future? Do they go after President Obama, or do they take this chance to reintroduce their own guy to the American people after a pretty rocky last couple months?"

It's not just Republicans who have been spending money on Super Tuesday. Priorities USA Action, the superPAC that backs President Obama, spent a relatively small amount, some $77,000, on TV ads in Ohio, which will be a key swing state come the general election in November.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

With 10 states voting tomorrow, a lot of money is flowing for TV ads and the big spenders are not the Republican candidates, but the superPACS supporting them. As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, they have doled out $12 million for ads in the Super Tuesday states.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Leading the way is Restore Our Future, the superPAC that backs former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. According to Federal Election Commission numbers, Restore Our Future has spent some $6.9 million on the Super Tuesday states. Ken Goldstein tracks political ad spending for Kantar Media CMAG.

KEN GOLDSTEIN: The groups have clearly taken the lead in advertising for the whole Republican primary. They're very much taking the lead in the advertising on Super Tuesday. It's mostly the Restore Our Future show, followed by Winning Our Future, which is the Gingrich group, and Red, White and Blue, which is the Santorum group.

NAYLOR: Red, White and Blue, which has spent some $1.3 million on Super Tuesday, has been running this ad in Ohio, perhaps the most contested of all of Tuesday's primaries. It goes after Romney for his alleged similarities to the man all Republicans want to defeat in November, President Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: How can Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama when, on the vital decisions, they're not much different? Like Obama, Romney drastically increased spending, increased state taxes and fees. Even worse, Romneycare is the blueprint for Obamacare. Who can win? Rick Santorum, the principled leader who's fought against big government.

NAYLOR: Restore our Future, meanwhile, has targeted Santorum in this ad running in Ohio that uses the former Pennsylvania senator's explanation during a debate last month for voting to give Planned Parenthood federal funds.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Santorum says he's the principled conservative, but that's not how he voted. Here are Santorum's own words on voting to fund Planned Parenthood.

RICK SANTORUM: While I have a personal moral objection to it, even though I don't support it, that I voted for bills that included it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Twenty years in Washington changed Santorum's principles.

NAYLOR: Newt Gingrich, who hasn't had a victory since South Carolina in January, has pretty much focused all his efforts on winning Georgia, tomorrow, the state he represented in Congress. The superPAC that backs him, Winning Our Future, has spent some $1.1 million in the state, a little less than a third of the dollars it has spent overall on Super Tuesday. It's behind this ad, which also takes a dig at Romney.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: We're looking at 5- or 6-dollar-gas. Romney's not the type to pump his own gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Newt's got a plan for American-made energy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 3: More American jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: Get the government out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 4: Newt's for paychecks, not food stamps.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 5: Newt's my man, there's no doubt about it.

NAYLOR: While most superPAC ads throughout the primary season have been attacking candidates, Restore Our Future has been running this positive message in Ohio about Mitt Romney, whose approval ratings have plummeted since the primary season began. It highlights an episode when, while CEO of Bain Capital, Romney suspended the company's operations to find a missing girl, the daughter of an employee.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 6: Mitt's done a lot of things people say are nearly impossible, but for me, the most important thing he's ever done is to help save my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 4: Restore Our Future is responsible for the content of this message.

NAYLOR: Ken Goldstein of Kantar Media says it will be interesting to see, if Romney does emerge as the frontrunner tomorrow, how his ads and those of the superPAC that supports him might change.

GOLDSTEIN: What's the strategy of the Romney campaign? What's the strategy of Restore Our Future? Do they go after President Obama or do they take this chance to reintroduce their own guy to the American people after a pretty rocky last couple months?

NAYLOR: It's not just Republicans who have been spending money on Super Tuesday. Priorities USA Action, the superPAC that backs President Obama, spent a relatively small amount, some $77,000, on TV ads in Ohio, which will be a key swing state come the general election in November. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.