The morning anchors on WESH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Orlando, cut away from local news and weather at 6:30 a.m. Monday for a bloc of commercials – and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich took it right in the chops.
For weeks, rival Mitt Romney and his allies have owned Florida’s skies, carpet-bombing Gingrich like a wing of B-52s over Hanoi. Team Romney had outspent the Gingrich forces $15.4 million to $3.4 million through Monday, according to political sources monitoring the ad wars.
Almost all the airtime has gone toward negative attacks on the former House speaker’s turbulent political career, and the 5-to-1 advantage is a major reason Romney is the heavy favorite to win Tuesday’s Florida primary, the first-big state contest of the race for the nomination.
On WESH, the first ad of the bunch was a clip from the NBC network evening news in 1997, set to spooky music, reporting how Gingrich had suffered the “judgment of his peers” in the U.S. House, who found him guilty of ethics violations. The 30-second spot came from the Romney campaign.