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Christmas cease-fire over; final Iowa ad war begins

The holiday hiatus, such as it was, has ended, and 2012 campaign advertising, post-Christmas edition, is taking flight in Iowa.

A week and a day before the nation’s leadoff caucuses, the airwaves of the Hawkeye State are once again clotted with a slew of ads, positive and negative, from the Republican presidential candidates and their supporters.

The ads aren’t limited to local broadcast outlets. 

Fox News, a leading factor in the nationalization of the early voting contests, is reaping rich rewards from its intense coverage of the Republican nomination race. Going where voter eyeballs are, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul are investing heavily in Fox buys leading up to the start of actual voting.

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The commercials being beamed at Iowans include Romney’s new 30-second spot, with video of him interacting with what appear to be Iowa voters, that portrays him as a tightfisted, solutions-oriented reformer who will make government “more efficient.”

There are attack ads on all of his leading rivals by Rick Perry, who continues to push his threat to cut Congress’ pay and send them home to “get a job like everybody else.”  

That commercial is bumping up against an inventive spot by a pro-Perry Super PAC (named Make Us Great Again) run by longtime Perry intimate Mike Toomey. It lampoons Romney and Gingrich, accusing them of not being as conservative as they claim to be. There are other “independent” efforts, including an ad by David Bossie’s conservative group, Citizens United, that promotes Gingrich and wife Callista, who appear in the commercial, disguised as a paean to Ronald Reagan.  

One spot airing in Iowa that doesn’t seem to be part of a Fox buy: Rick Santorum’s 30-second commercial that dismisses rival GOP contenders and calls him “finally, a conservative we can trust.”

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Absent from the Iowa ad blitz, at least for now: Michele Bachmann (and Jon Huntsman, who isn’t openly campaigning for the Jan. 3 caucuses).    

paul.west@latimes.com


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