This would ordinarily be about the time that Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals started running negative ads directed at him. The GOP field, however, has decided to largely leave Romney alone.

So, it’s apparently up to Dems to fill the vacuum. With that in mind, the Democratic National Committee launched this new ad this morning.

YouTube video

The spot is part of a new Mitt v. Mitt campaign — DNC tag line: “The story of two men trapped in one body” — not surprisingly characterizing the leading Republican presidential candidate as an unprincipled flip-flopper who’ll say anything to get elected.

This is not, by the way, just some random web video. The DNC will air this new ad in six key battleground states — New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — as well as Washington, D.C. It’s part of a strategy that will be amplified with accompanying efforts in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

This new spot goes after Romney’s reversals on abortion rights and health care reform, but it’s obviously easy to imagine the Mitt v. Mitt campaign featuring a lengthy and diverse series, highlighting all kinds of equally-egregious flip-flops. This is the first, but it’s likely to be followed by dozens of similar ads.

Indeed, the DNC unveiled an extended version, reinforcing the way in which Romney’s flip-flop problem reinforces fears about his character and his trustworthiness.

YouTube video

And in the larger context, the DNC’s new videos leave no real doubt that (a) Dems assume Romney will be the Republican nominee; and (b) they also believe they have plenty of material to work with in order to make the former governor look ridiculous in the eyes of mainstream voters.

Newt Gingrich said yesterday, “It’s perfectly reasonable to change positions if you see new things you didn’t see. Everybody does that, Ronald Reagan did that. If you go around and adopt radically different positions based on need for any one election, people will ask, ‘What will you tell me next time?’”

It’s the message Democrats will encourage voters to ask themselves quite a bit over the next 49 weeks.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.