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Ad blitz puts GOP on spot

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 10:20 p.m.

President Obama is outspending Mitt Romney on advertising in almost every battleground state, putting pressure on the Republican candidate to unleash a late spending surge.

Since the Democratic Party's convention ended Sept. 8, Obama and his supporters have put 32 percent more ads on television than Romney and his allies, a Wesleyan Media Project analysis out Wednesday showed.

Obama and the super PAC supporting him, Priorities USA, aired 92,104 ads in the three weeks after the conventions, compared with 69,426 ads from the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee and six outside groups.

Obama has the advantage in 14 of the top 15 markets, including cities in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Colorado. Romney leads only in Las Vegas, thanks to nearly 3,000 ads run on his behalf by outside groups.

The disparity is “astonishing,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, a research group at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn., that tracks political television advertising.

“It's very surprising to me that any campaign would give such an advantage to another candidate in a competitive presidential cycle, particularly given the early indications that Romney and his outside interest groups would be dominating the airwaves,” Fowler said.

The gap is big enough the Romney campaign sought to reassure donors with a memo Tuesday that promised Romney would “spend as much in paid advertising, direct mail and field operations in the next five weeks as we have spent “ since April. Through September, Romney spent $108 million on advertising, according to data from SMG/Delta, a Republican media buying firm. To match that ad buy between now and the election, the Romney camp would have to spend more than $21 million each week.

“Everything we want to do will be funded,” Romney political director Rich Beeson said. Obama's strategists, he said, “are running a campaign the same way they run the country — just throw money at it and hope that it solves the problem.”

An ad push now from Romney would have missed the start of early voting in two swing states, Iowa and Ohio. Nor can Romney count on significant additional coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee. Campaign-finance laws allow $22 million in coordinated ad expenditures between a candidate and party, and the RNC has spent about $20 million.

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