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'Is this dude serious?' Attack ads heat up in GOP race

Trailing third ahead of the February 28th Michigan primary and still raising millions of dollars across the country, 76-year-old candidate Ron Paul and his campaign dropped an unlikely 'dude' in its latest attack ad.

And Mr. Paul, perhaps the least likely of all the candidates to ever use the word 'dude,' did indeed approve of the message.

The focus of the attack: Rick Santorum, who is leading in Michigan, although the race there is tightening.

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"Is this dude serious? Fiscal conservative? Really?" the narrator asks in an ad that also describes Mr. Santorum's Washington, D.C. track record of big government spending as "not groovy."

Mr. Santorum's campaign, not exactly known for its grown-up ads either, released an ad last week attacking Mitt Romney using a look-alike and depicting him with a machine-gun as the actor tries to splatter cardboard cut-outs of Mr. Santorum with mud.

Attacks ads have made up half of all ads in the Republican leadership contest compared to 6 per cent in 2008, according to a study by the Washington Post.

The Romney campaign's Michigan attack ad aims at Mr. Santorum's past defence of 'earmarks,' a practice followed by many Washington, D.C. politicians of securing funds for projects in one's home state.

"America is drowning in national debt," the ad narrator says, over the image of a man drowning in water. "Yet Rick Santorum supported billions in earmarks."

And while Mr. Paul technically approves of "dude" and "not groovy" in his latest attack on Mr. Santorum, his followers almost certainly do.

Mr. Paul pretty much has a lock on the under-30s crowd, by no means a large demographic in this year's GOP race, but definitely motivated to keep Mr. Paul in the race and amassing delegates under the party's new rules in 2012.

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If enthusiasm and money is what keeps Mr. Paul going, then he can count on both so far. New fundraising figures released for the month of January show that Mr. Paul raised as much money as Mr. Santorum: $4.5 million, with almost half of the donations in amounts of $200 or less.

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About the Author

Affan Chowdhry is the Globe's multimedia reporter specializing in foreign news. Prior to joining the Globe, he worked at the BBC World Service in London creating international news and current affairs programs and online content for a global audience. More

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