President Obama addresses a campaign rally at the Virginia Commonwealth… (Sara D. Davis / Getty Images )
The Obama campaign has put an eye-popping figure behind its new television ad blitz: $25 million.
That would make it the biggest campaign ad buy thus far in an already-expensive presidential race, and an early show of the Chicago-based campaign's sizable war chest.
Consider that Mitt Romney, winding down an exhaustive Republican primary fight, had just $10.1 million in cash on hand at the close of the first quarter fundraising period. Or that the biggest single buy that had been announced previously was $6 million by Americans for Prosperity, a leading conservative group.
That money buys weeks of air time in nine battleground states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado.
Obama campaign officials revealed the spending figure during a conference call with reporters Monday, in which they argued their positive message stood in contrast to Romney's negative campaigning.
Senior strategist David Axelrod said the campaign estimated that about 90% of the more than $50 million Romney and his "super PAC" have spent on advertising to date has been negative.
"There's a reason why he went through his whole kickoff speech two weeks ago without ever mentioning he was governor of Massachusetts. There's a reason why he talks about being a businessman without ever talking about exactly what his business did," he said. "He's basically reduced to running a negative campaign, just as he was in the primaries, and hoping that will carry the day."
The Obama campaign's "significant investment" in what it sees as the positive message of its new ad does not preclude other spots responding to attack ads from Romney, his super PAC, or other outside groups.
"We will compare our record and our vision with his, and we will let the American people decide," Axelrod said.
Just as the Obama campaign has been eager in recent weeks to define Romney as an out-of-touch, archconservative who would rubber-stamp the agenda of congressional Republicans, the GOP has argued repeatedly that the president would not be running on his record, and instead would pursue an all-attack strategy that runs counter to the themes of "hope" and change" that marked his 2008 effort.
The new ad, and Obama's new campaign stump speech, reflects the effort to quickly squelch that message from taking hold.
"If people ask you what this campaign is about, you tell them it’s still about hope. You tell them it’s still about change. You tell them it’s still about ordinary people who believe that in the face of great odds, we can make a difference in the life of this country," Obama said Saturday in Columbus.
Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman, responded to the call by saying that the president's campaign "would like for voters to believe he hasn't been president for the last three years."
"Americans are disappointed in President Obama’s liberal policies that haven’t made their lives any better. President Obama just hasn't lived up to his promises," she said.