In early August, satirist Stephen Colbert and his super PAC, Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, launched the political-attack-ad season with this hilariously confusing commercial targeting Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Ames Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa.
The Ames Straw Poll is a write-in election so confusing Gov. Rick Perry with Colbert’s fictitious Rick Parry could have proven surprisingly costly for the candidate.
On Dec. 21, Make Us Great Again, a super PAC supporting Perry, aired its first negative ad throughout Iowa. However, this 30-second commercial did not target the intentional misspellings of the Colbert’s super PAC, but focused on two of his legitimate presidential rivals, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Make Us Great Again increased its ad buy in Iowa to $175,000 to run this ad, and they also intend to air it in South Carolina.
In late December, Endorse Liberty, a super PAC backing Texas Rep. Ron Paul, started running online commercials with actors lampooning the other Republican presidential hopefuls.
On Jan. 1, they launched a 12-minute video featuring “Fake Mitt Romney” in which the fake candidate supports the real Paul. It has already received more than 200,000 views on YouTube.
Despite the humor and effectiveness of some of these attack ads, the candidate who has benefited the most from the influence of super PACs is undoubtedly Romney. Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, has spent roughly $3 million airing ads supporting Romney and predominately attacking Gingrich in Iowa and New Hampshire, and recently has committed to a $2.3 million ad buy in South Carolina.
Gingrich has not taken these attacks lying down, and he has seen how damaging they can be since most analysts agree that Restore Our Future’s attack ads contributed to his fall from potential front-runner to a fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Recently, Gingrich-supporting super PAC Winning Our Future received a $5 million contribution from a wealthy Gingrich supporter—some reports say he may increase his contribution to $20 million before the end of the campaign. Winning Our Future has already released a 1-minute commercial attacking Mitt Romney.