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In first ad of presidential race, Democratic group uses Newt Gingrich to belt Mitt Romney

May 20, 2011|By James Oliphant

Newt Gingrich’s words on Medicare continue to haunt the GOP--and are the basis for the first official ad of the 2012 presidential cycle. The place: South Carolina, one of the early primary states. The target: Mitt Romney.

Priorities USA Action, a new big-money political organization founded by former White House staffers, is running a TV ad in South Carolina this week to coincide with Romney’s visit. And it seeks to use Gingrich’s criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare revamp and Gov. Nikky Haley’s praise for the plan as means to try and box in both Romney and the GOP.

“Newt Gingrich says the Republican plan that would essentially end Medicare is too ‘radical,’ the ad intones. “Gov. Haley thinks the plan is courageous, and Gingrich shouldn't be cutting conservatives off at the knees. Mitt Romney says he's 'on the same page' as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare.

“But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder...which page is he on today?”

Democratic operatives have seized upon Gingrich’s critique of the Ryan plan earlier this week, which the former House speaker has since disavowed (even going so far as saying any ad quoting his words directly would be a "falsehood,"), trying to use it as evidence that the plan goes too far in transforming Medicare into a private-insurance program for Americans 54 and younger.

Priorities USA is an organization set up by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney that is intended to compete with deep-pocketed Republican-centric independent groups such as American Crossroads. Both groups have a separate offshoot group that can raise unlimited funds from undisclosed donors for political ads.

Voters can now look forward to 18 more months of these ads. Watch the anti-Romney spot below:

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