New Mitt Romney 'fidelity' ad aims to lure social conservatives

Mitt Romney talks about fidelity. Rick Perry about religion. Will these new TV ads resonate with social conservatives in Iowa?

Mitt Romney for President Campaign
Mitt Romney and his wife of 42 years, Ann, in new TV campaign ad.

Rick Perry’s latest ad - about Obama’s “war on religion” - is drawing notice for this line: 

“…there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

It’s Perry’s most pointed - and provocative - ad to date, though it’s not the first where he’s focused on religion. Other Perry ads have included the one when he accused President Obama of calling Americans “lazy,” and a recent one where he somewhat painfully tried to make fun of his “oops” moment (see “dead horse, beating”).

Mitt Romney has also released a new ad Wednesday called “Leader” (though based on its content, we think it should really be titled “Fidelity”), in which he states: 

“I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy.”

In the ad, Romney notes he’s been married to the same woman for 42 years (unlike, um, wait a minute, it’ll come to us…), belonged to the same church his whole life, and even worked at one company (Bain Capital) for 25 years.

Both Perry and Romney are clearly making a play for social conservatives - who tend to make up a significant portion of Iowa’s GOP caucus-goers (last cycle, you’ll remember, they gave former Arkansas Gov. and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee the win).

But will these ads generate significant traction for either candidate? That’s a particularly pressing question for Perry - who has already laid out a huge amount of cash on TV ads, with very little to show for it. 

MSNBC’s First Read provided a detailed breakdown Wednesday of candidate spending on ads to date.  Overall, Perry has spent a combined $7.6 million on ads (between his campaign and his SuperPAC; technically they are prohibited from coordinating). Ron Paul has spent $2.6 million; Jon Huntsman has spent $1.4 million (mostly through his SuperPAC); Romney has spent $674,000; Newt Gingrich has spent $233,000; Michele Bachmann has spent $166,000; and Rick Santorum has spent $23,000.

Aside from the jaw-dropping amount Perry has already spent compared with his rivals, the most interesting number to us was just how little Romney has spent (perhaps too little, given that he now seems to be facing a real threat from Gingrich).

That’s clearly about to change.

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