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In a last bout of campaigning before Christmas, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota signs autographs at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, on Dec. 22. (AP)

Silent For A Night (Or Two) In Iowa, Candidates Keep Pace In Ads

by Kate Wells
Dec 26, 2011 (Morning Edition / Iowa Public Radio)

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If Iowans feel they've been bombarded by political ads in recent weeks, that's nothing compared to what the next eight days will be like. With the caucuses only a week from Tuesday, the ad wars are changing gears for the final stretch.

Iowans didn't get much of a break from campaign spots over the weekend. But at least most of them stuck to season's greetings, and used family members to help deliver the message. There was one from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista.

And another from Sen. Rand Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul.

And one called "Character" from Ann Romney, the wife of former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

For other candidates, the holidays offered a chance to launch a new ad campaign. In some cases, using surrogates.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to regain lost momentum in Iowa with a statewide bus tour and a barrage of prime-time ads. Perry's latest one is titled "President of Honor," and features endorsements from military veterans.

If the reaction from other candidates is any indication, Perry's plan may be working. A new ad from a pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, hammers Perry and Gingrich.

"Newt Gingrich supports amnesty for millions of illegals. Rick Perry not only supports amnesty, but gave illegals in-state tuition," the ad intones. "Gingrich and Perry: too liberal on immigration."

For Gingrich, this week will mark a shift, with fresh TV spots and a new message on the stump: He's boasting about his economic chops versus those of the former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.


Other candidates are also looking for a post-Christmas miracle. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has a peppy new ad that takes the format of a pop-up video.

The ad includes a montage of Santorum's family, with text bubbles reminding voters of his conservative record.

Perry and Santorum have been struggling, polling below 10 percent, along with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

In recent months, Bachmann's been missing from the TV spot circus. But this week she's getting back on the air, using supporters to deliver her message.

With only a week left, it's still not too late to reach Iowans, says Craig Robinson, editor of TheIowaRepublican.com.

"I think the ads could help push people one way or the other in the final moments before the caucuses," says Robinson. "It's just like an NBA game, you know? It's kind of this slow, leisurely game, and in the last three minutes it's crazy and it's really what you want to tune in to and watch."

With more than half of Iowa Republicans telling pollsters they're still uncommitted, these final ads could provide the candidates with a real opportunity to do well in the caucuses.

Copyright 2014 Iowa Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.iowapublicradio.org.

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