The campaign’s small ad buy was followed up on Tuesday with a similar spot from the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA, which said it bought $4 million worth of television time in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The ad stars Pat Wells, a former GST Steel employee in Missouri, who is wearing a heavy coat outside the vacant mill. “He’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He’ll take it all," he says of Romney.
Voters were also introduced on Tuesday to Deborah Ragland from Webster City, Iowa, in a new Internet video from the Romney campaign. She’s been looking for a job for two years.
“Every week it’s harder at the grocery,’’ she says wearily at her kitchen table. “You stay the same, everything goes up, so you’re falling behind every month."
As the well-heeled Republican candidate seeks to come across as a regular guy, images of people like Ragland could help generate the populist jolt his campaign has been missing. The campaign also has 30-second versions of the 4-minute video.
“In the Obama economy, 23 million Americans are struggling for work. These are the stories behind the statistics,’’ said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
All of these new ads feature the white working class—a group of voters both candidates have struggled to connect with and which continues to struggle mightily in this recovery. At the end of 2011, according to the Labor Department, whites with less than a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 13.9 percent, nearly six points higher than the national average.
Representatives of blue-collar America have real names and faces in these latest ads, and they are telling their stories in their own words.
“Neither candidate is from that group—you have an African-American professor and a venture capitalist," Goldstein said. “These faces in Ohio and Pennsylvania are the ones [who] are going to decide this election."