Gov. Mitt Romney's media team is exploring the cost of buying early television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, a Romney aide confirmed today.
The aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, would not say when Romney's campaign intended to run ads, only that the campaign had inquired about the available time and rough cost of ads in both states.
A month ago, a Romney political adviser told the Hotline that the campaign had no reason to run television ads this early. So the early activity may be a sign that Romney's advisers want to shore up his conservative credentials in the wake of articles questioning his evolution on social issues and conservative activists who have given voice to their doubts. Already, Sen. Sam Brownback and Ex-AR Gov. Mike Huckabee have directly questioned Romney's conversion on abortion.
Romney formally launched his candidacy this morning.
Rep. Duncan Hunter’s PAC has already aired ads in Iowa, and several interest groups, including the liberal MoveOn.org, have run ads in both early primary states attacking Sen. John McCain. In 2003, then candidate Howard Dean became the first Democrat to run ads -- but that was in June. [MARC AMBINDER]