But they also make a more emotional appeal, attempting to imprint in voters' minds that the Obama of 2012 is not the same candidate who ran in 2008 on the promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington.
Put simply, the ads seek to undermine the perception that Obama is an ethical politician.
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, which spent $8.4 million airing Solyndra-themed ads, said, "We have a president who proclaimed he was going to be different, and it turns out he is not. He is just the same old, same old we've seen from politicians in both parties over the years."
Phillips said the administration "has not lived up to its own lofty rhetoric" and believes the president "is using tax dollars by the bushel-full to promote his ideology, an ideology that leads to cronyism."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has picked up on theme, telling a Jacksonville, Florida, crowd Monday: "He practices something I call crony capitalism, and instead of it being driven by the market and consumers, it's driven by politicians."
This strategy is what you'd call attacking a perceived strength.
A November ABC News/Washington Post poll suggested that 57% of Americans believe the president is honest and ethical. And operatives on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that Obama remains well-liked personally even when his job performance numbers are low. Some operatives say that could count for a point or two in a close race and could be meaningful in November.
Steven Law, CEO and president of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, explained that voters who are still impressionable include independents, "soft" Democrats and Republicans who voted for Obama in 2008 but now "feel a deep sense of disappointment."
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