Aiming the arrows at the frontrunner

Remember when Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign unveiled those overdramatic videos that looked like they’d been directed by Michael Bay? It turns out, with Pawlenty having quit, the same filmmaker has moved over to Rick Perry’s team, and he’s producing “striking” videos like this one, going after Perry’s main rival, Mitt Romney.

For those who can’t watch clips online, the video connects Romney’s health care law in Massachusetts to President Obama’s Affordable Care — at one point, we see Obama looking in the mirror and seeing Romney — including a quote from the president himself saying he agrees with Romney on health care policy. It also says Jimmy Carter backs Romney in the race for the Republican nomination.

The same video touches on Romney’s “flip-flopping,” and adopts a line the former Massachusetts governor likes to use himself: “Nice try.”

I have to admit, when I saw Pawlenty’s Bay-like videos, I tended to just roll my eyes. This spot, however, strikes me as pretty effective — it’s far more accurate than what we’re used to seeing in a GOP attack ad, and it hits Romney on one of his key vulnerabilities, combining his approach to health care to his lack of trustworthiness.

Perry’s video comes the same day as a new DNC project called, “Which Mitt?” that helps document the fact that Romney has been for and against nearly every major public idea on the policy landscape. In a strange-bedfellows twist, the right-wing FreedomWorks is touting the DNC’s site, in the hopes it will undermine Romney’s chances.

Romney has faced almost no serious pushback in recent months, en route to becoming the Republican frontrunner. With the Iowa caucuses coming 12 weeks from tomorrow, it appears the campaign is about to experience a noticeable shift.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.