Politics

Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum issue online ads critical of Mitt Romney

In a sign that the Republican presidential race is getting nasty in South Carolina, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich both released harsh attack videos aimed at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney today.

Both videos were released on YouTube, not as paid media buys. But they reflect a growing desperation on the part of Romney’s opponents to stop his momentum in the South Carolina primary race.

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The Santorum video features a slow march of people, in black and white, through a cavernous room, directed by a man with a bullhorn. “The establishment is once again telling us to fall in line and vote for their back-room, hand-picked moderate candidate,” the ad says, as an image of Romney flashes on the screen. After criticizing Romney’s policies on the Wall Street bailout and abortion, the video shows voters being handed a blindfold and asked to walk off a roof. The ad switches to color as it shows a video of Santorum delivering his stump speech.

The Gingrich video features clips from the 2008 presidential race of then-candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee attacking Romney. Huckabee attacks Romney for running a “dishonest” campaign, while McCain accuses Romney of shifting positions. (Romney used a clip from Huckabee in a separate web ad earlier this week, in which Huckabee, on his radio show, defended Romney against negative attacks from Gingrich.) McCain has endorsed Romney this election, while Huckabee is neutral.

Meanwhile, Romney has been attacking Gingrich on the campaign trail. But in his paid media buy, a 30-second TV ad released today, he focuses on President Obama. The ad features clips from Romney’s stump speech, in which Romney contrasts his views with those of the Democratic president on government regulations, health care, and federal spending.

Shira Schoenberg can be reached at sschoenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.
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