WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney began his national presidential television ad campaign Wednesday, the same day fellow Republican candidate Sen. John McCain officially launched his White House bid.
Two Romney ads, which previously have run in several local markets in Iowa, New Hampshire and other key primary states, began running Wednesday morning on national cable networks including CNN and Fox News. The campaign says the ad buy will last several months, though different spots are likely to be rotated in during that time.
"The fact that he's on national cable on the day that one of his chief rivals is relaunching his campaign I don't think is any coincidence," says Evan Tracey, CEO of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), CNN's consultant on television ad spending. "In between that coverage of McCain's announcement tonight will be Romney commericals."
Though Romney is the first 2008 presidential candidate to air television ads on a national level, CMAG records show that he is not the first presidential candidate to go up this early with a national television ad campaign. Publisher and former GOP candidate Steve Forbes ran ads on national cable slightly earlier than this point in 1999.
Tracey said that the timing of this ad buy reflects the historically fast pace at which this campaign is unfolding and the growing significance of February 5, 2008, when up to 25 states might hold presidential primaries and caucuses.
"Clearly, this is a move to extend the Romney brand beyond just Iowa and New Hampshire," said Tracey. "It's reaching the February 5th states, but it's also reaching a national audience. It shows you that February 5th is not being taken for granted by even the top-tier candidates."
The first ad in this new buy features Romney and his wife, Ann, and describes the former governor as "business legend, rescued the Olympics, the Republican governor who turned around the Democratic state." The second ad features a clip from Romney's speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March where he declared "I like vetoes" and vowed to block unnecessary spending in Washington.