Things have been ugly on the airwaves in Iowa, and the recipient of those ads is going to start giving some of the ugly back.
It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but it fits a pattern which goes back to Iowa in the 2008 cycle. Different recipients, same attacker.
Update: I’m already beginning to sense whining and a false sense of outrage that Newt and others are going to go negative on Romney, as if going after Romney the way Romney went after Newt is disloyal to the goal of defeating Obama. Romney and his supporters did not hesitate to try to destroy Newt’s general election prospects with a strategy of crazy and us or no one attitude.
But none of Romney’s 2012 rivals ran an ad solely taking on the former Massachusetts governor—a sign that they perhaps underestimated his rise in Iowa.
Just 20 percent of the negative ads airing in Iowa targeted Romney, even as part of an attack on multiple candidates, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. By comparison, 45 percent of the negative spots went after Gingrich—a statistic that explains, in part, why the former House speaker’s poll numbers in the state plunged in the final days of the campaign.
In hindsight, the decision to leave Romney untouched appears to be a serious miscalculation, one that Romney’s opponents are unlikely to repeat as the focus shifts to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary and onto other key early voting states, including South Carolina, Florida and Nevada.