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Rick Perry ad criticizes his rivals on health care

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 4:58 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON — TITLE: "Obamacare"

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: Iowa statewide and Fox News nationally

KEY IMAGES: Opens with large white words, "We don't want government mandated health care," over a darkened image of the White House. It's replaced by an image of Newt Gingrich, standing in a defensive position, over the words, "Supporter of health care mandates." Mitt Romney comes next, along with the label, "I like mandates." President Barack Obama follows, at a bill-signing ceremony behind the words, "Obamacare is an entitlement disaster."

Rick Perry concludes the ad by promising he'll repeal the president's health care overhaul: "I won't let the big-government liberals ruin this country," he says. "I'm Rick Perry, I'm an outsider who will repeal Obamacare, and I approved this message."

ANALYSIS: Having fallen from his brief standing atop the GOP field, Rick Perry is taking a decidedly negative turn in an effort to tear down his rivals.

He is hovering near the bottom of the polls, but he has a tool at his disposal that most of his second-tier competitors do not: Money. Perry raised $17 million in the three-month quarter that ended in September, outpacing even Mitt Romney in that period. It's unclear exactly how much he has left having turned to television advertising in recent weeks to try to reverse his slide.

But this ad is far more aggressive than his others. This time, Perry lumps the two GOP frontrunners with the Democratic president on an issue that conservative voters care deeply about.

And on health care, both Gingrich and Romney have apparent weaknesses. The ad states that Romney "likes mandates." Romney has not backed away from supporting the Massachusetts health care law he signed into law while governor that requires all Bay State residents to have health insurance.

The bill inspired the framework of Obama's health care plan. But Perry's ad misleadingly suggests Romney favors a national mandate. Romney has consistently said each state should be allowed to adopt its own health care policy. And he has promised to implement an executive order once in the White House that would free states from the requirements in Obama's health care plan.

Perry's suggestion that Gingrich is a "supporter of health care mandates" is largely accurate. The former House speaker has supported an individual mandate to promote personal responsibility for several years. But he too says Obama's plan should be repealed.

Perry's promise to repeal the bill is popular among conservatives, but it's largely considered unrealistic because of political and practical hurdles.

Overall, the new ad could resonate among Republican primary voters. There is some truth to the criticism. But it's unclear if Perry's ad campaigns are enough to save a candidacy that is struggling to survive its repeated missteps.

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