The candidate: Mitt Romney
The ad: The new clip is a fierce counterattack to President Obama's repeated hammering of Bain Capital's record of outsourcing under Mitt Romney, who Obama labeled the "outsourcer-in-chief" for his time leading the polarizing private equity firm. "When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?" a narrator in the Romney ad asks, before flashing quotes from news stories that seem to undercut the president's claims. "The Obama outsourcing attacks: Misleading, unfair, and untrue. There was no evidence that Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas." The ad then employs a blast from the past, saying that in 2008, "candidate Obama lied about Hillary Clinton." Cue a vintage clip of the woman who is now Obama's secretary of State berating her then-rival: "So shame on you, Barack Obama." The narrator closes: "President Obama's dishonest campaign. Another reason America has lost confidence in Barack Obama."
The ad buy: The Romney campaign has not publicized how much money is behind the ad, although The Wall Street Journal reports that it's a multi-million dollar buy.
The strategy: The whole point of "No Evidence" is to undercut a damning Washington Post report that "pegs [Romney's] private equity firm Bain Capital as pioneers in the outsourcing movement," says Sabrina Siddiqui at The Huffington Post. Up to this point, Romney had largely remained silent as Obama used the Post story to lob outsourcing accusations at him, says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. But "conservatives would like to see more counterpunching, as polling suggests" Obama's attacks "are taking a toll on Romney's favorability." This ad is "a sign that the Republican candidate will no longer let attacks go unanswered."
The reaction: Bravo, says Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard. It's great to see Mitt finally fighting back. Indeed, the ad "will likely help calm some GOP nerves about Romney's ability to deliver a counterpunch," say Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz at PBS. Perhaps, but his timing is terrible, says Jonathan Chait at New York. Just as the Romney campaign accused Team Obama of spreading lies about outsourcing, a Boston Globe report "fueled an uproar" over whether Romney lied about what year he actually left Bain Capital. And substantively, "this is utterly crucial." The fact-checking news stories that Romney quotes in his new ad call Obama's attacks misleading because Romney supposedly left Bain in 1999, and the outsourcing occurred afterward. But now we know Mitt was around for the outsourcing, after all. Ouch.
Watch the ad: