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Tim Kiska: The Battle Of The Airwaves Begins

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Rick Santorum (credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Rick Santorum (credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

By Tim Kiska

The television campaign for dominance in Michigan’s February 28 presidential primary has begun. And it’s already nasty.

Let’s start with Rick Santorum’s ad.  It depicts Mitt Romney as a Rambo-like character, brandishing what looks like an AK-47 that shoots mud instead of bullets. The targets, of course, are cardboard cut-outs of Rick Santorum. In other words, it’s a nasty ad about nasty ads.

But it’s Romney who is dropping the money bomb here in Michigan.

A Super PAC backing Romney will spend $460,000 in the state, according to the New York Times. The ad portrays Santorum as a free-spending Washington insider. That message was delivered again in a telephone press conference with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, State Representative Aric Nesbitt and Hillsdale College Professor Gary Wolfram.

Patterson made much of Santorum’s lack of private sector experience — an interesting charge from a guy who has spent virtually his entire career as either a prosecutor or a county exec.

Another ad delivers a warmer, fuzzier message:  Romney as the Detroit native who remembers a better time.

“I grew up in Michigan,” Romney says, as he cruises the streets of metro Detroit. “It was exciting to be here. I remember going to the Detroit Auto Show with my dad.” (View it here).  This could be a major weak spot for Romney. Although he grew up here, he spent most of his adult life elsewhere. And one survey this weekend says only one in four of those surveyed think of Romney as a Michigander.

All of this happens as three polls show Romney behind Santorum here in Michigan, with less than two weeks to go before the primary.

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