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Campaign ads go negative in Iowa as Romney, Gingrich, Ron Paul mix it up (VIDEO)

Campaign ads bombard Iowa, as the Republican candidates and their surrogates step up efforts to raise doubts among caucus-goers about their rivals. In some ads, that means going negative.

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"Serial hypocrites [photo of Gingrich] and flip-floppers [photo of Romney] can't clean up the mess" in Washington, says a new ad from the Paul campaign. It then touts Congressman Paul's budget-balancing plan and calls him "the one we've been looking for."

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The opening of the Paul ad has the look of a movie trailer – no accident, as campaigns struggle to grab voters' attention and get them to turn out for the Jan. 3 caucuses.

In fact, a sibling commercial by the Paul campaign actually opens with a green screen showing the words "the following preview has been approved for all audiences." (A story "of smooth-talking politicians" and a ready-to-conquer hero follows.)

Some recent polls in the state show Paul, Romney, and Gingrich as the leaders in a six-candidate field. (Another Republican aspirant, former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman Jr., is not campaigning in Iowa.) Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum aren't out of the running, given that even a third-place finish in Iowa can bring a candidate some momentum to compete in subsequent primary votes.

Indeed, Mr. Santorum has edged ahead of Gingrich in the latest poll, with 16 percent of likely attendees at the Iowa GOP caucuses. Romney had 25 percent and Paul 22 percent in the CNN/Time/ORC poll.

The candidates also seek to woo Iowans with positive pitches.

Watch Newt Gingrich's ad here:

One new Romney ad plugs his experience at balancing budgets, saying that it's a "moral imperative for America to stop spending more money than we take in. It's killing jobs...."

The Ron Paul ads segue seamlessly from the problem (the other guys in Washington) to promotion of Paul and his ideas as the solution.

Gingrich is the self-avowed Mr. Sunshine of the campaign, with a recent pledge to stay "relentlessly positive." 

His recent digs against Romney (a "Massachusetts moderate") and Paul ("totally outside the mainstream") make that upbeat image harder to sustain. But his TV ads echo the "morning in America" themes used so effectively by Ronald Reagan.

One new Gingrich ad called "Winning the Argument" uses debate footage showing some of his rivals nodding approvingly as he sings the praise of free markets. Another new spot has the candidate intoning: "If you hear high unemployment is our new normal, just say boloney! We can create millions of jobs right now."

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