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The TV Battle in Mich.: Santorum's True Conservative Vs. Romney's Native Son

Both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have new ads up in Michigan as they try to shape their images for voters with the state's primary approaching in two weeks.

Their approaches are strikingly different. Santorum's two ads are meant to cast him as the true conservative in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

In an ad called "Very, Very Best Chance," Santorum makes the case that not only is he an authentic conservative but that he's the most electable GOP candidate vis a vis President Obama. Against a backdrop of images of Santorum on the campaign trail and with his family, the ad starts:

"Who has the best chance to beat Obama? Rick Santorum.

"A full-spectrum conservative, Rick Santorum is rock solid on values issues..

A "full-spectrum" conservative kind of makes Santorum sound like an antibiotic.

Romney's ad, on the other hand, is more personal nostalgia, intended to reinforce his Michigan roots for voters.

His ad, called "Growing Up," also aims at leveling Romney with average voters by showing him driving a car around what appears to be Detroit or its suburbs. If Romney had been sitting in the backseat instead while someone else drove, that presumably might have reminded voters a little too much of Richie Rich.

"I grew up in Michigan. It was exciting to be here. I remember going to the Detroit auto show with my dad. That was a big deal..."

But Romney's spot is also a front-runner's ad. You would never know from his ad that he's having trouble nailing down the support of many voters in the Republican Party's base.

Instead, Romney goes from sharing snippets of his childhood memories of Michigan to bashing President Obama's economic stewardship.

But he ends with: "I want to make Michigan stronger and better. Michigan's been my home, and this is personal."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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