Pro Romney Super PAC primary TV ads take flight in Georgia

The first flight of primary campaign commercials stations have anticipated for weeks hits the air today on four Atlanta TV stations and across the state as the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, has bought about $100,000 worth of air time through next Tuesday.

The spot will run on WSB a total of 18 times over three days and all will air during local or national news broadcasts, according to documents obtained from the station. Restore Our Future booked time on Channel 2 Action News in the morning and at 11 p.m. It will also be seen on “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and “This Week.”

Strategists are still trying to figure out if it means former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in for a fight in his old home state on the scale of South Carolina and Florida -- where campaigns and Super PACs spent $30 million on primary advertising, most of it attack ads – and whether the Super PAC that has largely fueled his primary run, Winning Our Future, will strike back, and when.

Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Winning Our Future, said Tuesday “I’ve got nothing to announce right now.” On Monday, when word leaked that a Restore Our Future buy was in the works, Gingrich campaign strategist Susan Meyers, made little of it, saying the PAC was “flushing money down the toilet” and Gingrich is a heavy favorite to win the March 6 Georgia primary.

Brittany Gross, a spokesperson for Restore Our Future, declined Tuesday to say what spots the group is airing or give any more details of the buy. Nobody else -- so far -- has bought air time, said John Deushane, general manager of Atlanta station WXIA.

"I don't think they'll spend as much as they did in Florida," he said. "But with political campaigns you never know."

In South Carolina and Florida the spending intensified in the week running up to the election. But the Florida primary was just 10 days after South Carolina, and after Gingrich won South Carolina -- in a comeback upset.  Romney's campaign and Restore Our Future poured money in to Florida. They outspent Gingrich and Winning Our Future almost six to one in Florida -- $15.8 million, versus $2.7 million -- and Romney won the state.

Primary victories since by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have further muddled the picture and made it less predictable where the campaigns and the Super PACs will spend their money, and how much, hammering the air with ads between now and March 6 when Georgia and nine other states hold primaries on what's known as Super Tuesday.

It's not clear yet whether the tone of the campaign and ads in Georgia will be as nasty as they have been in other states, including South Carolina and Florida. Gingrich said on Monday in California, where he is campaigning, he's more effective when he talks about solutions rather than attacking rival candidates.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said Tuesday he's not privy to Gingrich's strategy, but he thinks voters may welcome and respond better if all sides ratchet down the attack ads. He said Gingrich had little option but to answer the criticisms hurled at him, and now maybe the tenor of his campaign will change.

"There comes a time when you have to answer and I think he [Gingrich] is in a position to answer some of those attacks," said Deal. " They are not new. These have already been aired many, many times in many other states. They’re well aware of what the negativities are. I hope we can in Georgia at least begin to set a different tone and have a positive campaign run in our state.”