With four months to go until Election Day, President Obama’s well-funded campaign on the airwaves is focusing on two broad themes: that he is a fighter for the middle class who needs more time to finish the job, and that Republican rival Mitt Romney is obsessed with corporate profits to the point of being borderline unpatriotic.
“Outsourcing versus insourcing - it matters,” declares a TV ad from the Obama campaign this week that criticizes Mr. Romney for moving jobs overseas during his tenure at the helm of Bain Capital LLC, a private-equity firm. Airing in nine battleground states, it is typical of the negative ads that Mr. Obama’s Chicago team has aimed at the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Some of the commentary accuses Mr. Romney of ignoring what’s best for America.
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“Mitt Romney’s economic philosophy has always put maximizing his profits above anything else,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters Tuesday. “Even if it means refusing to bet on America and its workers.”
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg countered: “We are happy to put Gov. Romney’s record of job creation in the private sector, and as governor, up against President Obama’s any day.
“If President Obama had even half of Mitt Romney’s record on jobs, he’d be running on it,” she said. “But President Obama has the worst record on jobs and the economy of any president in modern history, which is why he is running a campaign based on negative attacks, distortions and distractions, not solutions.”
The Obama campaign’s attack on Mr. Romney’s record in the private sector is aided by the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, which is run by two former Obama White House staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney. From April 10 through June 28, 100 percent of the ads sponsored by Priorities USA mentioned Bain Capital by name, according to a study by Kantar Media’s campaign media analysis group.
The president also is the target of relentlessly negative ads, funded in part by wealthy conservatives who can spend unlimited amounts independently of Mr. Romney’s campaign. Mr. Obama has worried aloud to supporters that he might be outspent in this race, and he is countering the Republican attacks with an advertising blitz in battleground states to reintroduce himself to voters.
The campaign spent $12 million on TV ads in a single week last month, after a $25 million, monthlong ad buy that ended in early June. The Obama team has purchased $6.5 million worth of airtime for TV ads during the Olympic Games in London, which begin July 27.
One Obama commercial that aired recently reminded viewers that the Great Recession began before Mr. Obama took office and recounted the president’s achievements such as rescuing the auto industry and killing Osama bin Laden.
“Some said our best days were behind us,” the ad’s narrator says. “He believed in us. He fought for us. We’re coming back.”
The president’s ads play heavily toward the female vote, citing his advocacy of equal pay for equal work and his support of contraception coverage. The campaign’s first national TV ad, which aired last month, featured actress Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” fame, who was hosting a fundraising dinner for Mr. Obama at her home in Manhattan. In the spot, she called the president “the guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, the guy who created 4 million new jobs.”
The only time Mr. Obama’s ads mention debt is when they are talking about Mr. Romney and the debt he amassed while governor of Massachusetts.
Of the $25 million ad buy, the Obama campaign devoted $5 million each to Ohio, where the president will begin a campaign bus tour on Thursday, and to Florida, where the TV ads are continuing in a summerlong bombardment. The campaign is spending most of its Florida budget on the Interstate 4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando, a region that is home to a burgeoning Hispanic population.
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“It appears that Barack Obama feels he’s in trouble in Florida,” said Republican consultant Jamie Miller of Sarasota, Fla. “Obama has come out of the gate swinging hard at Romney because it is clear that Floridians are rejecting Obama’s failed policies.”
In June, Obama for America spent more than $2.1 million on more than 2,390 TV commercials in the Orlando market, according to a review by the Orlando Sentinel. In May, the Obama campaign spent more than $2 million for 985 commercials in the same region.
The latest census figures show 4.36 million Hispanics in Florida - representing 23 percent of the state’s population. Priorities USA is also teaming with the Service Employees International Union on a $4 million Spanish-language ad campaign in Florida, Colorado and Nevada to portray Mr. Romney as uncaring about average workers.
Mr. Romney’s campaign hasn’t aired TV ads in Florida, although four Republican groups - including the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future - spent a total of $1.4 million in the Orlando TV market last month