Pawlenty dings Romney in first Iowa ad buy

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

Tim Pawlenty's campaign unveiled a $50,000 ad campaign in Iowa Wednesday, touting his accomplishments in "a liberal state," complete with a less-than-subtle jab at his opponent, Mitt Romney.

"A lot of candidates will come to Iowa and say the same things. The question is, have they done it?" the former Republican Minnesota governor says in the new ad. "In a liberal state, I reduced spending in real terms for the first time; Took on the government unions and won; Appointed a conservative supreme court; And passed health care reform the right way — no mandates, no takeovers." [Emphasis added.]

Pawlenty has targeted Romney, the GOP frontrunner in early polls, for overseeing the passage of Massachusetts' state health care law that included government mandates to buy insurance, not unlike the law President Obama championed on the federal level last year. During a Fox News interview this month, Pawlenty dubbed the new law "Obamneycare" (he's also toying with "Robamacare"). Despite a brief moment of weakness at a recent debate, he has no plans to let up on Romney.

Pawlenty closes the ad with a line that political observers are going to hear a lot over the next year and a half: "If I can do it in Minnesota, we can do it in Washington."

The early ad campaign will be a crucial start to making Pawlenty's brand a household name. The two-term governor still trails behind Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann and Ron Paul in name recognition, according to a Pew Research poll unveiled early this month.

Pawlenty is the first candidate to buy television air time in the state; the ads will run through July 3.

(Photo of Pawlenty: Darryl Webb/AP)