Posted on January 24 2012 – 11:01 PM – Posted by: Doug Brady
It’s only been about nine months and 20 debates, give or take, since the Republican campaign began in earnest last spring. In all that time the non-Mitt candidates have been remarkably timid about making an obvious point about RomneyCare: It served as the basis for, and is virtually identical to ObamaCare. Oh, and both plans were designed by the same people. Why it has taken so long for the non-Mitt candidates to take the gloves off on this crucial issue is as mystifying to me as it has been suicidal for them. It’s always been a giant elephant in the room and one of Romney’s greatest liabilities (though there are plenty of others). If Romney’s the nominee, ObamaCare is here to stay.
And yet Republican candidates have largely given the Mittster a free pass on this issue. Tim Pawlenty tried to bring it up with his “ObamneyCare” comment last spring, then meekly slinked in the corner and uttered not a peep on the topic in the following debate before eventually dropping out and endorsing the Mittster, presumably because he lost a straw poll to Michele Bachmann. Speaking of Michele Bachmann (remember her?), she claimed to speak for the Tea Party and yet never even brought the subject up. My guess is that she was running to be Mitt’s VP more than anything else. The only one who made any noise at all was Rick Santorum, but for whatever reason he didn’t or couldn’t sustain it.
But this self-imposed moratorium on attacking Mitt for his health care debacle may finally be coming to an end, as Winning Our Future, a pro-Gingrich Super PAC has released a devastating ad today on this very topic:
And, significantly, this isn’t going to be a simple web ad. The Washington Post notes that the Super PAC has already bought air time in Florida to the tune of $6 million, making Newt immediately competitive in a state that requires a lot of cash to advertise in:
On Tuesday, the group announced that it had purchased $6 million in air time in Florida media markets, a massive ad buy that would make its effort competitive with what the Romney campaign and its surrogates have done in recent weeks.
And that’s not all the Super PAC is doing:
They’re hiring field directors, setting up phone banks, building get-out-the-vote teams and crafting a message strategy worthy of a presidential candidate.
But they aren’t staffers for a national campaign; they are the people behind an increasingly potent super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.
And they are doing what Gingrich’s topsy-turvy campaign hasn’t been able to do: raising lots of money quickly and building a campaign infrastructure ready to go up against the massive operation of his leading rival, Mitt Romney. How well they succeed could shape what is now widely seen as a two-man contest for the Republican nomination — and could determine how many weeks, or even months, it will take to decide the race.
“It would be virtually impossible for Gingrich to raise the funds he needs for an elaborate ground operation at this very late stage of the game,” said Robert Kelner, an election lawyer with D.C.-based Covington Burling. “The super PAC can do it easily and quickly. It’s sort of a positive thing; they’re taking us back to an earlier time where it was possible to come in from the blue as a viable candidate late in the game.”
It looks like the easy cakewalk Romney once envisioned in Florida is no more. He’s going to have to deal with something he didn’t expect: A rival with enough resources to compete with his money and organization. Competition is a good thing, and the Mittster’s plan to simply purchase the nomination has been dealt a serious setback. I don’t know how this will all shake out, but it’s good to see at least one non-Mitt candidate finally going after Romney directly over RomneyCare. Better late than never.