Obama going soft on Romney? Don't believe it.

A new Obama ad features soothing music and a homey touch. The president himself delivers the message. But half of it is still negative. And a new poll shows that Obama's attacks on Romney are working, so expect more.

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    President Obama speaks at the 113th National Convention of the VFW in Reno, Nev., Monday, July 23. Mr. Obama’s new ad, called 'The Choice,' is being touted by pundits as a break from the harsh rhetoric of the 2012 campaign. Is he going soft on Romney?
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The music is soothing, the setting is homey, and it’s President Obama on camera doing the talking, not Scary Voiceover Man.

Mr. Obama’s new ad, called “The Choice,” is being touted by pundits as a break from the harsh rhetoric of the 2012 campaign. In light of last week’s movie-theater massacre in Colorado, the gentler touch seems appropriate— especially after months on end, it seems, of pounding negativity from both camps and the well-funded outside groups that support them.

And it’s summer. Time to kick back a little bit, with Mitt Romney heading overseas, and the conventions a month away.

Recommended: Obama vs. Romney: 'World War III" for attack ads. But is that bad?

Indeed, the president’s message (about himself) is positive, if not new: He promises to create an economy that’s “built to last” by strengthening the middle class and asking the wealthy to “pay a little more” to bring down the debt.

But the first half of the ad is still negative against Mr. Romney.  It’s Obama’s usual critique, just delivered in a more low-key way.  

“Governor Romney’s plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top. Roll back regulations on big banks. And he says that if we do, our economy will grow and everyone will benefit,” Obama says. “But you know what? We tried that top down approach. It’s what caused the mess in the first place.”

“The Choice” will air in nine battleground states, the Obama campaign says: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Team Obama has good reason to stick with “contrast” ads: They work. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll out Tuesday shows that the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s business record and refusal to release more tax returns have taken a toll on the former Massachusetts governor’s image.

More than a third of registered voters say that what they have heard about Romney’s taxes and his time at Bain Capital has given them a less favorable impression of the presumptive Republican nominee, the online poll found.  Of particular worry to Romney is the portion of registered independents – 26 percent – who now regard Romney less favorably because of his business tenure, versus 13 percent who see him more favorably, Reuters reports.

Overall, 36 percent of registered voters said that what they had heard about Bain Capital moving jobs overseas has made them see Romney less favorably, with 18 percent saying they see him more favorably.

On the tax return issue, 37 percent of registered voters said that what they had heard about the issue made them view Romney less favorably. Among independents, the figure was 30 percent.

The poll of 1,195 adults, including 962 registered voters, was taken between Thursday and Monday and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

"With three-quarters of registered voters saying they've heard at least a little about these issues, I would say the Obama campaign has been successful in raising them to the national conscience," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark told Reuters.

Still, here was some good news for Romney: He still beats Obama on his “plan, policy, or approach” to the economy, by far the top issue of the campaign.

Bottom line: This little respite from the harsh tone of the campaign is sure to end. Enjoy it while it lasts.


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