Mitt Romney, eager to establish credentials as a fiscal conservative in the Republican presidential race, will begin running a new ad Wednesday in which he vows to cut spending and taxes.
The 30-second spot will slip into Romney's current ad rotation in Iowa and New Hampshire, key early states where he already has spent more than $2 million on commercials.
The former Massachusetts governor is so far the most aggressive television campaigner of either party, going up with his ads early and spending more than $4 million on his media campaign.
"Government is simply too big; state government is too big, the federal government is too big," he says. "It's spending too much. I'm going to cut spending, I'm going to cut taxes.
"Lower marginal tax rates for all Americans. Get taxes down, make them simpler and flatter and lower."
By suggesting that he would make tax rates flatter, the ads suggest that Romney would not only take steps to cut taxes further, but to redo the tax code in significant ways.
The ad strategy appears to be paying off. Romney's standing in public opinion polls has risen to the top in both states. He has used the ads to introduce himself to voters, to tout his business credentials, to insert himself into the debate over immigration and now to call for smaller government.
A current ad, called "Tested, Proven," will also continue to run.
Of all of Romney rivals, Sen. John McCain has been one of his main targets. But this ad also seems subtly designed to offset the popularity of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has emerged as a credible leader among some conservative voters. In the ad, Romney attempts to pick up the leadership mantle.
"I've brought change to every institution I've touched," he says.
The McCain campaign promptly criticized Romney, noting that state spending increased while he was Massachusetts governor. Romney inherited a huge budget deficit and though he refused to raise taxes, he raised fees for state services and closed some tax loopholes that critics say amounted to a hidden tax increase.
"It appears Mitt Romney is trying to recreate his record as governor," McCain spokesman Matt David said. "This ad demonstrates that he's willing to say and do anything in an effort to win the nomination."