(CNN) - Just hours after Mitt Romney’s campaign debuted a new New Hampshire television ad criticizing John McCain, the Arizona senator’s campaign shot back with a spot that took aim at Romney – its first ad to mention an opponent by name.
“As you hear Mitt Romney attack John McCain, consider these words from New Hampshire newspapers,” says the announcer. “The Union Leader says John McCain has ‘conviction’ and Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that. Mitt Romney has not."
“The Concord Monitor writes, ‘If a candidate is a phony ... we'll know it. Mitt Romney is such a candidate.’ That's why Romney's hometown newspaper says the ‘choice is clear’: John McCain.”
The 30-second spot will begin airing this evening in New Hampshire, where McCain is now a close second to the former Massachusetts governor in most recent polls.
A McCain campaign official tells CNN the "counterpunch" has been ready for several days, in anticipation of a Romney TV attack in the Granite State.
UPDATE: Romney spokesman Kevin Madden responded within minutes of the ad's release. "Sen. McCain has a troubling history of neglecting substantive issues and getting personal in his attacks against those who happen to disagree with him. It’s the McCain way," he said.
–CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand