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Romney releases first general election TV ad

Friday - 5/18/2012, 12:40pm  ET

By STEVE PEOPLES
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Mitt Romney's first general-election TV commercial promises he would introduce tax cuts and approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the first day of his presidency.

The Republican candidate released the ad Friday, coupling it with a fundraising pitch. The 30-spot is upbeat, in contrast to an ad President Barack Obama is running that criticizes Romney as a businessman. Romney has called the Obama ad "character assassination."

In Romney's commercial, his first since becoming the presumptive nominee, an announcer asks: "What would a Romney presidency be like?"

"Day One: President Romney immediately approves the Keystone pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked," the announcer declares, referring to a pipeline Obama has delayed. Republicans insist his decision shows Obama's hostility toward the energy industry.

"President Romney introduces tax cuts and reforms that reward job creators, not punish them," the announcer says, repeating a familiar Republican theme.

Then, in an effort to ease conservative skepticism, the announcer says: "President Romney issues order to begin replacing Obamacare with common-sense health care reform."

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a health care overhaul that was a model for Obama's health care law. Conservatives loathe the law's requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or face penalties.

Romney does not speak in the ad. But it shows video and still photos of Romney appearing with U.S. workers, underscoring the campaign's central pitch that Romney is the best candidate to improve the economy.

The ad ignores Congress' role in fulfilling these promises, especially on the health care law. A full repeal would require votes from Republican majorities in both the House and Senate or Democratic support for repeal. Republicans currently control the House and have voted to repeal the law. But Democrats control the Senate, and the balance of power on Capitol Hill would have to shift in order to make Romney's pledge a reality.

Congress also would have to act on taxes. The president cannot set tax rates.

Data provided to The Associated Press from TV stations and media buyers shows Romney is spending $1.3 million to air the ad in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio, all critical battleground states.

"It is quite different than the ones that have come from the Obama campaign. Instead of attacking on a personal nature, it describes the things that I would do if I were elected president," Romney told voters in those states during a Friday conference call.

Obama's campaign characterized the ad's promises as recycled rhetoric.

"Mitt Romney's empty promises are nothing new. The people of Massachusetts heard them when he ran for governor in 2002," said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith. "The one thing he did accomplish _ implementing health care reform that was a model for federal reform _ is now something he would undo on day one of his presidency".

Romney also released Spanish-language version of the ad.

The campaign had not aired commercials since April, when Romney's top Republican challenger, Rick Santorum, dropped out of the presidential race.

Several conservative super PACs have been airing ads attacking Obama.

___

Associated Press writer Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)