Romney SuperPAC Spends Millions On Negative Ads

The superPAC supporting Mitt Romney reported it bought $2.7 million in negative TV ads against Rick Santorum in Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois and Louisiana. All of those states have upcoming primaries.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Television viewers in Alabama and Mississippi might want to brace themselves. A sustained barrage of political attack ads is coming their way courtesy of the superPACs backing Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETERY OVERBY, BYLINE: The new spending spotlights the bitter, three-way contest that emerged from this week's Super Tuesday primaries. Romney wants to push Santorum out of the race. Santorum is targeting Romney and candidate number three, Newt Gingrich. The superPACs reflect those strategies. But only one of them - the pro-Romney Restore Our Future - has the cash to carpet-bomb the opposition. Restore Our Future says it's spending $2.8 million in four states: Alabama and Mississippi, which have primaries next week, plus Illinois and Louisiana, which vote the week after. Most of the ads attack Santorum, like this one...

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Barack Obama and his liberal allies attack Mitt Romney. Why? Obama knows he'll beat Rick Santorum. Santorum...

OVERBY: The superPAC's filing to the Federal Election Commission shows that 94 percent of the spending is to buy TV time. A little is also spent on direct mail and phone calls attacking Santorum. The pro-Santorum superPAC is the Red White and Blue Fund. Since Santorum is the man in the middle, the superPAC's new ad goes after both Romney and Gingrich.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How can Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich beat Barack Obama when on the vital decisions they're not much different?

OVERBY: The superPAC plans to run the ad in Alabama and Mississippi at a cost of 500,000 to $600,000. By now, the television contest basically belongs to the superPACs and their millionaire donors. In the run-up to Super Tuesday, the Santorum and Gingrich campaign committees did no TV advertising at all. The Santorum campaign says it raised more than $9 million in February, twice as much as the month before. The Romney campaign says it raised 11 1/2 million dollars last month. But based on the information it released, it appears that the campaign spent slightly more than that. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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