Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Romney’s $55 Million Negative Attack Machine Now Targets Santorum
Wednesday, 22 Feb 2012
By Jim Meyers

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney and his supporters are spending more than $4 million in the battle for next Tuesday’s must-win Michigan primary, funding a barrage of negative attack TV ads aimed at Republican presidential rival Rick Santorum.
But the spending spree is nothing new for the Romney campaign, which spent $18.8 million in January, while a pro-Romney super PAC dished out nearly $14 million in Florida, 20 times the amount spent by any other group — mostly for attack ads against Newt Gingrich. 

Overall, the Romney campaign has spent more than $55 million as of early February, with negative advertising accounting for much of that amount.

Yet Romney doesn’t have a lot to show for all that spending. Of the nine GOP primaries and caucuses held so far, the former Massachusetts governor has won just four. Santorum, meanwhile, pulled off stunning victories in three states on Feb. 7, winning the Missouri primary and caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado.

What’s more, the Romney campaign has been coming under attack for the negative political advertising it now aims at Santorum. And radio talker Rush Limbaugh said Romney’s smear campaigns against fellow Republicans “is why people hate Romney so much.” Santorum for his part has also attacked Romney’s negative advertising, declaring on Tuesday: “You see all these commercials, ‘Rick Santorum is a big spender,’ but they never once mention I voted for smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation.”

A loss in Michigan, where he grew up and his father George served as a three-term governor, “would severely hobble Romney’s run heading into crucial Super Tuesday contests on March 6,” the New York Post observed on Wednesday. The negative ads may be helping Romney in his home state, who was trailing Santorum there. But most polls have been showing Michigan as a close race.

But nationally, the nasty attacks on fellow GOP candidates appears to be backfiring, with Romney increasingly falling behind Santorum in nationwide polls. A new Gallup poll showed Santorum leading Romney, 36 percent to 26 percent. And a survey of registered Republicans and GOP-leaning independents by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute has Santorum with 35 percent of the vote to Romney’s 26 percent.

And if Gingrich and Ron Paul are removed from the race, Santorum’s lead in the Quinnipiac poll jumps to 13 percentage points, 50 percent to 37 percent over Romney.