$10 M Checks, Obama Complains — Yet Look Who’s Gone Negative

Photograph by Susan Walsh/AP Photo

President Barack Obama speaks at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on July 6, 2012.

President Barack Obama is running campaign ads portraying his rival, Republican Mitt Romney, as the outsourcer-in-chief.

“I know that sometimes modern campaigns aren’t pretty to watch, because basically so much of it involves millions of dollars on television,” Obama told his audience at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh today.

“Most of the ads are negative,” Obama said, “and at a certain point people get discouraged and start feeling like nobody in Washington is listening to what’s going on to ordinary folks all across the country.”

It’s nothing like the first campaign, the former Illinois state legislator and U.S. senator said — when he and his wife circulated fliers printed at Kinko’s.

It sure isn’t.

Yet the way the president told it today, it sounded as if the Republicans are responsible for the tenor and volume of it.

Off the 68,443 ads that Obama has run on TV (local broadcast, national network & national cable) in the 30-day period ended July 2, 52,016 had an “anti-Romney message” — 76 percent of the total, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which monitors campaign advertising.

Obama’s negative ads have overtaken his positive ads. Since April 10, when Republican Rick Santorum’s exit essentially made Romney his party’s presumptive nominee, Obama has run 112,202 ads, of which 58,151 were anti-Romney and 54,051 positive.

So Obama’s been running heavily negative lately.

“Over the next four months, you’re going to see more money spent than you’ve ever seen before, more negative ads,” Obama told his audience today. “These guys are writing $10 million checks.”

This could have been a reference to Harold Simmons, the Texas businessman (Dallas-based NL Industries) who has given at least $14 million to the American Crossroads PAC airing ads attacking Obama and other Democratic candidates — or Sheldon Adelson — the Las Vegas Sands Corp.  chairman and CEO who has given more than $10 million to Winning Our Future, the super-PAC that backed Republican Newt Gingrich in the primaries, and has pledged to help Romney as well, and who is the 28th richest man in the world, by Bloomberg’s count of the world’s wealthiest.

Either way, the president’s people are feeling a little outgunned lately. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee combined collected $100 million in June, they say — though reports will be filed later this month.

“For context, that’s about what we raised in April and May combined,” Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, wrote today in an e-mail to supporters. “We’re still tallying our own numbers, but this means their gap is getting wider, and if it continues at this pace, it could cost us the election.”

Still, it’s not like the Obama campaign is sitting this one out.

The president’s re-election campaign — which hasn’t reported its June collections yet — accounted for more than half of the presidential campaign ads that aired on broadcast network television during the 30-day period ended July 2, – 68,443 ads, among 131,119 overall, according to CMAG.

Obama’s ads ran three times as frequently as Romney’s (23,815) — though the effective gap was narrowed by super-PAC spending: with the work of Romney-allied committees, Restore Our Future (7,939 ads) and Americans for Prosperity (5,968 ads).

And there is evidence that those attack ads from camp Obama have taken a toll on Romney’s favorability ratings in key states.

No one’s running a campaign out of Kinko’s anymore.

Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux contributed to this report.

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