Romney's First Ads Do Not Inspire

David Kiley

Mitt Romney’s first campaign ads are a start to a long long long campaign season. It’s hard to call these ads a good start, or a bad start. It’s just a start.

As I stated in a previous entry, Romney’s biggest obstacle is that his personal story is darn complicated. He co-founded a significant investment firm. He led an overhaul of a corrupt Olympic committee. He served as a Republican Governor of a notoriously Democratic state. He is the son of a well-known pol who served as Governor of Michigan and ran for President. He is a mormon. He has flip-flopped positions on three GOP issues: abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research.

Not surprising, one of the TV ads is biographical. It skates visually over his impressive and solid resume mentioned above. Then, the ad quickly goes for laying the language that Romney will use to color the sound of his campaign:”I believe the American people are over-taxed and the government is overfed. I believe we're spending too much money and that's got to stop," the candidate says in the spot. "This is not a time for more talk and dithering in Washington. It's a time for action."

To see the ad, go to

A second ad has Romney talking about vetoes. "If I'm elected president, I'm going to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%. And if Congress sends me a budget that exceeds that cap, I will veto that budget. And I know how to veto. I like vetoes. I've vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor. And frankly, I can't wait to get my hands on Washington."

Okay, the first ad didn’t grab me, but this second one came at me like a Sominex the size of a Frisbee. It’s as if Romney (and no other candidate has yet to demonstrate they are ready for this either) is afraid to leave us with a truly inspiring message, an idea to grab hold of. Excuse me if I can’t latch on to “capping non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%.” Man oh man. “Morning in America," it aint.

One of the enthusiasm-killing aspects of what I have seen so far in the election season is that so many of the people making these ads and advising the candidates are people who have been doing it a long time and for many other candidates. I direct your attention to the fact that Mandy Grunwald has been on TV this week as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. Can you hear the audible groan?

With a wide open field on both sides, and the media impact of on candidate advertising, I’m hoping for the kind of game-changing ad creative I could write a book about. But we have a long way to go.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.