Obama, Romney Bash Each Other With 90% Negative Ads

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are decrying negative attacks even as they focus almost all of their television advertisements on bashing one another.

About 89 percent of Obama’s ads in the 14-day period ended July 9 carried an anti-Romney message and 94 percent of Romney’s ads criticized Obama, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. The Democratic president’s campaign ran more than twice as many negative spots as Romney during the period, 37,022 to 13,962, CMAG data show.

The negative ads underscore that Obama and Romney are sharpening their attacks 16 weeks before a Nov. 6 vote that national polls indicate will be close. Obama led Romney by 50 percent to 43 percent among registered voters in a survey taken June 28-July 9 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Obama’s most popular ad during the 14-day period says Romney promoted an “outsourcing” of U.S. jobs overseas as a private-equity executive. Romney’s most frequently aired spot includes footage of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticizing Obama’s campaign tactics as they competed for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The CMAG data don’t include some hard-hitting ads released in the past few days. An Obama ad released July 14 shows Romney singing “America the Beautiful” at a campaign event as it accuses Romney of sending jobs to Mexico, China and India, and keeping personal funds in accounts in Switzerland and Bermuda.

‘The Problem’

“Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem,” the ad closes.

Obama’s campaign unveiled the ad as the president completed a two-day campaign swing in Virginia, during which he criticized the negative tone of the election.

“It’s understandable that as you watch these TV ads, that you start thinking that politics just doesn’t seem to get what’s going on in your lives, that there’s so much negativity and so much cynicism,” Obama said in Virginia Beach on July 14.

Obama’s campaign ran more negative ads in the two weeks ended July 9 than in the previous 11 weeks. Since April 10, Obama’s campaign supplied 73,315 negative ads and 54,279 positive spots, CMAG data show.

Give Money

Obama has encouraged donors to give money to an independent super-political action committee, run by his former aides, that’s airing anti-Romney ads. The super-PAC, Priorities USA Action, ran ads more than 2,780 times in the 14-day period ended July 9, all of them attacking Romney’s business record at Bain Capital Partners LLC, the Boston-based private-equity company he co-founded.

The Obama campaign’s accusation that Romney shifted U.S. jobs overseas is “patently false, it’s a lie, and it’s sad to see the Obama campaign reduced to this kind of -- you know, these kinds of reckless, baseless charges,” senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

Romney’s campaign says the president’s attacks contradict his statements from his 2008 campaign, during which candidate Obama promised to run a campaign based on “hope and change.”

“What happened?” a narrator asks in a Romney ad that began running July 14 and uses footage of Obama speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

“If you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters,” Obama is shown saying. “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone to run from,” Obama said.

Attack Strategy

The president’s remarks are interspersed with headlines about Obama’s attack strategy against Romney. One cites Obama’s outsourcing attacks as “unfair.”

“We expect more from a president,” the ad closes.

Another Romney ad, released yesterday, shows footage of television commentators analyzing the tone of Obama’s campaign.

Obama’s campaign responded to the ad yesterday by saying Romney needs to “come clean” about his involvement with Bain Capital and also release additional federal tax returns.

“Until then, we are left to wonder just what he is hiding,” Lis Smith, a campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The Republican National Committee has also entered the fray, using its first presidential ad to say Obama failed to meet the “big plans” he set at the beginning of his administration, including cutting federal budget deficits in half and lowering a national unemployment rate that has been above 8 percent for 41 consecutive months.

“He tried,” a narrator says. “You tried. It’s OK to make a change.”

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