An inside look behind Mitt Romney’s 1st TV ad

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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As you probably know, Mitt Romney is out with his first TV ad of the general election.

So why now?

Senior Romney strategist Russ Schriefer (of the media firm, [Stu] Stevens & Schriefer), held a call Friday morning to discuss the ad. “In terms of the timing, this is a very pivotal moment of the campaign,” he said. “The race is settling and hasn’t really set yet.”

Regarding the Spanish version of the ad, titled, “Dia Uno,” Schriefer promises: “There’s going to be some serious points put behind the Spanish version of the ad.”

During the Friday morning conference call, Schriefer contrasted Romney’s new ad with previous Obama ads, which seemed to lack direction. “I think [the Obama campaign is] struggling to figure out what this race is about for them,” he said (while stressing that Romney was focused on the economy.)

But the Romney campaign didn’t just pay attention to messaging. They also worried about how to deliver this first ad. “We released the ad…first to our full list of Romney for President supporters. An email went out at 5 am Eastern to our full list across the country,” said Romney new media aide Lenny Alcivar.

“We thought it was important to release it to our list of supporters first,” he said.

My first observation of the ad was that the words “President Romney” are repeated three times.

This could be a coincidence, but my experience is that almost nothing happens in politics by accident. I’ve always suspected the goal in doing this sort of thing is to get people used to the idea that you could actually be president.

The theory, of course, is that you must be able to imagine someone as president before you’ll vote for them. And perhaps hearing “President Romney” is a subliminal way to do that, and to level the playing field.

I seem to recall then-Gov. George W. Bush doing a similar thing during the 2000 campaign, when he would frequently say something like: “When I raise my right hand, I’ll restore honor and dignity.” Sometimes he would raise his hand while saying that — helping the audience imagine him being sworn in. (Sure, this was also a thinly-veiled slap at Bill Clinton, but it was also helping people imagine he would become president.)