The former Massachusetts governor can expect a barrage of TV ads questioning his record. This week marks the beginning.
For now, the attacks on the Republican front-runner for president are mostly confined to snarky Internet videos, e-mails and Twitter posts.
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But the big-dollar war on Mitt Romney is coming, just as surely as winter. Millions of dollars raised by his Republican opponents and the so-called super PACS, as well as by groups on the extreme left and right of the political spectrum, will be hurled in his direction. In just an inkling of what's to come, rival Ron Paul started broadcasting television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire on Monday that smack Romney - along with Rick Perry and Herman Cain - for supporting the federal government's bailout of Wall Street that began under former President George W. Bush. And on Tuesday, the national Democratic party will begin airing a commercial in Arizona that assails Romney's recent comment about letting the foreclosure process "run its course and hit the bottom."
While the anti-Romney attacks are coming into focus, so is the primary calendar, allowing advertising budgets to be drawn up around the earliest nominating contests. The typically unflappable front-runner lost his cool for the first time in a nationally televised debate last week, when Perry brought up his former use of a landscaping company that employed illegal immigrants. Romney, red-faced and angry, seemed caught off guard.