TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama is “taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers.” Mitt Romney would bring “an end to the Medicare promise.” The Democratic incumbent has “hurt” the middle class and hasn’t done “what we need him to do.” If the Republican challenger wins, “the middle class loses.”
Got all that?
Outside the halls for the two national party conventions, the candidates and their deep-pocketed allied groups are airing millions of dollars of television commercials — regardless of whether they are factual or not — to reinforce the messages sure to be delivered within.
In Florida alone, where the GOP will nominate Romney, more than $105 million has been spent on ads. North Carolina, where Obama will accept his party’s nod next week, has seen at least $56 million worth of commercials during this campaign. Overall, political parties and outside groups have spent a stunning $540 million on TV ads, with most of the money being expended in battleground states.
Millions of dollars more are being spent this week in both Florida and North Carolina — polls show them to be competitive — as the two candidates look to tap into heightened political interest around the conventions that will send Romney and Obama into a two-month push to the election.
Republicans begin a bevy of speeches Tuesday, culminating with Romney’s address on Thursday.
Even if Florida voters wanted to tune out the event in Tampa, they’ll get healthy dose of the presidential campaign — during morning television, sandwiched between evening news segments and all across the TV dial at night. The same goes for the Democratic show headed for Charlotte, N.C., next week. It wraps up with Obama making his nationally televised case for a second term.
Republicans desperately want to reclaim Florida and its 29 electoral votes after Obama notched a decisive win four years ago. North Carolina, with 15 electoral votes on the line, is hotly contested after Obama’s 2008 victory broke a long string of Republican wins.
Florida has 10 distinct TV markets, making it a costly place for campaigns to navigate.
A weekend morning of Florida network television was indicative of a one-two-three punch:
— First was a soft-lit spot from Americans for Prosperity in which self-described Obama voters express regret after four years. “I think that now we’ve given Obama a fair chance and I don’t think he’s able to do what we need him to do,” says a woman identified as Connie.
— The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future came next with an ad splicing images of Romney and Obama at debate lecterns. A narrator accuses the president of having “wasted $800 billion on a failed stimulus and the jobless rate went up” while holding up Romney as a budget balancer and job creator in the public and private sectors.