While Newt Gingrich's presidential bid is all the rage right now among grass-roots Republicans, Democrats on Monday focused their firepower on Mitt Romney - the one candidate who has been a constant at the top of the GOP presidential pack.
The Democratic National Committee rolled out a new ad campaign and website, MittVMitt.com, that played up Mr. Romney's reputation for being a flip-flopper on some issues near the heart of the conservative movement.
In a 30-second mock movie trailer that is running in six swing-state markets, and an elongated version that's playing online, the DNC is attacking what it sees as Mr. Romney's evolving positions on abortion, climate change, health care and gun rights are highlighted.
"From the creator of 'I'm Running for Office, for Pete's Sake' comes the story of two men trapped in one body: Mitt vs. Mitt," a narrator says in the ad, which resembles a movie preview and includes a quasi-tale of the tape, during which one picture of the former Massachusetts governor squares off against another. The ad then plays a clip in which Mr. Romney vows to "preserve and protect a woman's right to choose" before jumping to another clip in which he says "the right next step is to see Roe v. Wade overturned."
"Two Mitts, willing to say anything," the narrator says.
The Romney camp countered with a statement and an afternoon conference call blitz during which supporters claimed that Democrats and President Obama are trying to distract voters from the president's failed economic record and are scared of facing Mr. Romney in the 2012 election.
"President Obama's policies have been utter failures for the middle class: He has failed to create jobs and has burdened future generations with massive amounts of debt," said Tim Pawlenty, the national co-chairman of the Romney presidential team. "This administration does not want to campaign against Mitt Romney and be forced to defend three years of failure.
"Instead of focusing on the middle class and job creation, President Obama and Democrats are focused on campaigning and trying to tear down Mitt Romney."
The DNC also marched out Philip W. Johnston, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman, and Melissa Kogut, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, for a conference call, during which they cast Mr. Romney as a world-class waffler.
"As someone who heard these statements supportive of reproductive choice out of his mouth, I'm beyond disappointed at the agenda he is now proposing for the country," Ms. Kogut said, alluding to a 2002 meeting with Mr. Romney, during which, she said, the then-gubernatorial candidate espoused a pro-choice stance.
"At the end of the day, I don't believe Mitt Romney was honest with us. He said what he needed to say to get elected as governor of Massachusetts, where it is widely understood - it was conventional wisdom - that you had to be pro-choice to win. And his position completely changed when he began running for president."
The DNC ads suggest that Mr. Romney was for Mr. Obama's stimulus plan before he was against it and distanced himself from former President Ronald Reagan before embracing the principles he espoused.
The online ad also features a clip from late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien, who quipped during one of his opening monologues that "experts are predicting kind of a tough fight between Romney and kind of his biggest ideological opponent: Mitt Romney from four years ago."
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