The images are stark, the music apocalyptic. If Newt Gingrich falters in the Republican presidential contest, Ron Paul’s scathing television ads may be a big part of the reason.
“If you want to put people in jail, let’s look at the politicians who created the environment. The politicians who profited from the environment,” Gingrich, in one of Paul’s ads, is shown saying during an October debate. Then, over 60 seconds, the ad casts the former House speaker as exactly that type of politician — through the voices of commentators, former congressional colleagues and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
While other members of the GOP presidential field were slow to spend money to spread their messages, Paul’s campaign has been on TV with ads in early voting states since last summer. The spots have addressed topics like abortion rights and the debt ceiling negotiations while nudging rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Perry for being slick or inconsistent.
But his barrage against Gingrich and an equally tough anti-Gingrich ad sponsored by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future are raising questions about whether Gingrich can maintain his remarkable surge.
“When Ron Paul puts up a commercial blistering Speaker Gingrich, it’s going to have an impact,” said Bob Vander Plaats, a conservative leader in Iowa who has not made an endorsement. “Newt knew it was coming — the question is whether he can withstand it and respond. If not, he’s going to slip.”