Romney begins ad campaign
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney began airing commercials Wednesday on national cable networks at a cost of some $2 million in an attempt to give his identity a lift in the crowded Republican presidential field.Romney also renewed an ad campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, a Romney adviser said. Most of the national ads will run on Fox News, a strategic effort by the Romney camp to reach conservative voters.Lagging in name recognition but flush with cash, Romney by far is spending the most on advertising of any candidate at this early stage of the presidential campaign.The Romney adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because the campaign does not publicize its ad strategy. In the national ad, called, “I Like Vetoes,” Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, says that as president he would demand that discretionary domestic spending be capped at 1 percent less than the rate of inflation.”If Congress sends me a budget that exceeds that cap I will veto that budget,” Romney says. “I like vetoing.”The ad began airing on the same day that Sen. John McCain of Arizona officially launched his campaign.Though Romney was the top fundraiser among the Republican candidates in the first three months of the year, he still lags behind McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls of Republican voters.Like McCain and Giuliani, Romney also has had difficulty rallying conservative voters to his side. All three are competing to present themselves as the most fiscally hawkish candidate and have implicitly distanced themselves from the spending increases under the Bush administration.In a speech on the economy last week, McCain vowed to use the veto to control spending. “Give me the (veto) pen and, I promise you, I’ll say no, and I’ll say it loud enough so everyone hears me,” McCain said.In his two terms in the White House, Bush has only vetoed one bill – legislation that would ease restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.Besides Fox, Romney’s ad also will run on CNBC, MSNBC and CNN. The total cost of airing the ads is expected to be about $2 million and they will run for more than a month.He has the money. Romney raised $21 million in the first quarter and began the second quarter with nearly $12 million in the bank, the most money of the Republican candidates.Romney spent about $2 million in the first three months of the year on advertising, a recognition that he was the least well-known of the leading GOP candidates for the presidency.While the ads boosted some of his name recognition, he has not only trailed Giuliani and McCain, but also has registered lower than actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who has not announced his intentions to run.