CELEBRATION, FLORIDA — I asked the DNC chair what she’s learned watching Mitt Romney tee himself up for a likely victory in the GOP primary here tonight.
The lesson, according to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): Romney sure can buy a lot of negative advertising when he wants to.
“Even when he claims victory tonight, he can’t claim victory because he earned it [on substance],” she told me as the minutes until the end of Primary Day ticked away. “He bought it by drowning his opposition in negative TV ads. That’s reflective in that he’s plummeting in national polling with moderates and independents.”
Democrats are pushing this message hard, pointing to the huge volume of ads Romney bought as a sign that he’s not as strong as tonight’s expected victory in Florida might suggest. Team Romney has been pushing back equally as hard, claiming the recent spending totals in Florida aren’t as disproportionate as they look.
But the total spending (Romney went on the air weeks before Gingrich), shows the Romney campaign and its allied super PAC spent more than $15 million on ads, almost all of it negative. Gingrich’s total? Around $3 million. As Wasserman Schultz said, those kind of numbers by a lot of ads — and don’t buy Romney a lot of credibility when his campaign makes the argument that the spending gap is overblown.
“It’s a little difficult for them to tamp down the notion that they’ve been spending on negative advertising when they’ve had 13,000 ads on TV between their super PAC and their campaign to Newt Gingrich’s 200,” she said. “They’re really drowning their opposition in negative ads. And so I don’t know how they would get away with that.”