came in a disappointing second in Iowa last week, an experience he'd like to avoid repeating in tonight's New Hampshire primary.
In an effort to stave off Arizona Sen. , who has been surging in Granite State polls, the former Massachusetts governor purchased two minutes of airtime on New Hampshire TV stations Monday night to make a last-minute appeal to voters in which he stressed not only experience but also change.
Standing atop a hill in Manchester, N.H., Romney begins his message by touching on themes he's highlighted on the stump and in past TV ads. Romney says that Washington politicians have been ineffective in reforming education, health care and immigration policy. "It's long past time to bring real change to Washington," he says. "That's never going to happen if all we do is send the same people back to Washington to sit in different chairs."
Romney then asserts his argument for why he is the best candidate to effect change: his business acumen, success with the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and experience as Bay State governor. Painting a picture of the future, Romney says the outcome of tonight's vote "is going to affect your job, your children's schools and how long you sit in the doctor's waiting room. But it's also going to determine whether America will continue to lead the world as the great superpower it is today."
Co-opting the "change" theme that propelled Illinois Sen. to victory in Iowa, Romney mentions "change" four times in the ad. But as the Boston Globe notes, the "C" word may be a subtle jab at McCain, whom Romney has been painting as an "ossified creature" within the Washington establishment. While Romney has released ads criticizing McCain's positions on immigration and taxes, his most recent ad attacking the former Vietnam POW features New Hampshire residents saying McCain has had -- and missed -- his chance to reform Washington.
McCain: Repeating history
In his second quest for the Republican presidential nomination in New Hampshire, it's no secret that McCain is hoping that history will repeat itself. The Arizona senator bucked conventional wisdom in 2000 when he won the hearts of Granite State Republicans -- and more importantly, independents -- to edge out party favorite George W. Bush.
Throughout his renewed, post-Labor Day campaign, McCain has been focusing almost all of his time and money trying to convince those voters to stick with him. "Eight years ago, New Hampshire stunned the political world. You turned convention on its head because you didn't care what the experts or the media said," McCain tells viewers in his final Granite State ad buy before today's primary. "My friends, it's a different time, but it's the same place. You haven't changed and neither have I."
Meanwhile, although polls show positive signs for a McCain victory today, his campaign isn't resting on its laurels. McCain is already campaigning in Michigan, which votes next week, and expanding previous ads to markets in that state.
Paul: Who needs FOX when you have the troops?
Another GOP candidate hoping to capitalize on the maverick spirit of New Hampshire's independents is , the libertarian congressman from Texas who, despite garnering double-digit support in the latest CNN/WMUR poll [PDF], was excluded from a roundtable forum hosted by FOX News last weekend. That decision amused neither Paul nor his vocal supporters, but while he may not have the respect of the mainstream media, Paul is trumpeting his strong backing from military service members and veterans in a new ad airing in New Hampshire.
"Our troops have spoken, and Ron Paul is the choice for their next commander in chief," the ad proclaims, citing reports showing him leading the GOP candidates in donations from military personnel. The ad also takes note of Paul's own military service as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force.