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Campaign Notebook

Romney hits an ad milestone with blitz on Iowa and N.H.

Mitt Romney has run 10,000 TV ads so far in his campaign. Mitt Romney has run 10,000 TV ads so far in his campaign. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

It's well-known that Mitt Romney is vastly outspending his Republican presidential rivals in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Still, a head-turning new number shows by how much: He just passed the 10,000 TV ad milestone, TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, which tracks political advertising for CNN, reported yesterday.

Nearly all the spots ran in Iowa, which hosts the first caucus, and in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary. Romney is focusing on those two states, and has only recently begun advertising in South Carolina and Florida, which come up next in the primary calendar.

"This shows that Romney is a force to be reckoned with, and clearly he is relying on paid advertising and paid media to move his campaign," Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNS Media Intelligence, told CNN.

Romney, who has invested about $8 million for the ad buys, has used the spots to surge to the head of the pack in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, though a survey last week showed that his lead in the Granite State is narrowing.

On the Democratic side, TNS Media Intelligence says that Bill Richardson has run the most ads, more than 4,300. The New Mexico governor, however, is still languishing well behind Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

FOON RHEE

Rudy counts his chickens

Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign is feeling a little cocky.

Yesterday, the campaign e-mailed to its supporters and to reporters a memo that lays out the case for him winning the GOP nomination. The bottom line is the long-running Giuliani spin that he will be more electable in November 2008 because he would force Democrats to expend resources in some states, like New York and California, they usually can take for granted.

From Brent Seaborn, the campaign's strategy director, the memo is mostly a recitation of polling data, noting that the former New York mayor continues to lead the field nationally and has cut into Mitt Romney's lead in the crucial early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Seaborn is also dismissive of Giuliani's three major rivals, saying John McCain "has rebounded . . . but seems to have a limited potential for growth"; Romney "has spent tens of millions of dollars yet has failed to become a significant player on the national stage"' and "we have yet to see if Fred Thompson will try to compete as a regional or national candidate."

Seaborn also cites a Gallup Poll released last week that shows Giuliani - who has a moderate-to-liberal history on abortion, gay rights, immigration, and gun control - nevertheless leading the field among conservative Republicans and regular churchgoers.

BRIAN C. MOONEY

Squeezing to Clinton's left

While Hillary Clinton attempts to shade any differences between her Iraq policy and that of her Democratic opponents - she kicked off last week's debate at Dartmouth College by praising two of their approaches to the war - one of them is trying to portray her stance as pro-war.

"If you're not ending combat operations, you're not ending the war," former senator John Edwards plans to say in a forum today in Portsmouth, N.H., where he will also present new proposals to rein in military contractors drafted in response to the Blackwater scandal.

Edwards has promised to end all combat missions in Iraq and remove all troops who would be involved in them, saying that a force of noncombat personnel would be necessary to protect the US Embassy in Baghdad. Clinton has refused to make such a pledge, while New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has said he will remove all troops from the country.

Edwards, who like Clinton voted to authorize the war in 2002 in the Senate but has been far more profuse in his apologies for it, is trying to use the distinction over troops and their mission to move to Clinton's left on a substantive matter of war policy.

SASHA ISSENBERG

Dean damage control

It's the scream that will never die. Howard Dean's primal yell after he finished third in the 2004 Iowa caucus was the beginning of the end for the former Vermont governor's presidential hopes.

Now, the Florida Republican Party is recycling it in a new TV ad to woo angry Democrats - and pummel the Democratic establishment for threatening to not seat delegates because Sunshine State Democrats agreed to a Jan. 29 primary in violation of party rules.

The Democratic National Committee, led by Dean, put the hammer down, saying that presidential candidates would be penalized for campaigning in Florida.

The ad snarkily notes that when Dean, in an ever-louder voice, listed state after state that he would go to next, Florida wasn't mentioned.

"Tell Dean and the Democrat powerbrokers we won't forget how the Democrats turned their back on Florida," the narrator intones.

FOON RHEE

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