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Romney debuts anti-McCain television ad

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  • Romney campaign debuts new television ad in New Hampshire attacking McCain
  • McCain has been gaining the New Hampshire polls
  • Romney's camp launched ad attacking Huckabee in Iowa after his surge
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(CNN) -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is debuting his first television attack ad against rival John McCain.

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has launched a televison ad that criticizes John McCain.

The 30-second television spot paints the Arizona senator as soft on tax cuts and illegal immigration, echoing themes found in direct mail the campaign has been sending to voters.

It's the latest sign that the former Massachusetts governor is worried about McCain's rise in the New Hampshire polls.

"John McCain -- an honorable man. But is he the right Republican for the future?" the announcer asks in the ad.

"McCain opposes repeal of the death tax, and voted against the Bush tax cuts -- twice. McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here -- permanently. He even voted to allow illegals to collect social security."

"And Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney cut taxes and spending as governor. He opposes amnesty for illegals. Mitt Romney -- John McCain. There is a difference."

McCain's White House run was all but written off this summer when his campaign nearly ran out of money, but McCain is now tied with Romney for the lead, or a close second, in most recent surveys of Granite State primary voters. And McCain is no stranger to New Hampshire voters -- he beat President Bush in the state's 2000 primary.

McCain also recently won the endorsement of the Union Leader in New Hampshire, an influential conservative newspaper.

"The ad highlights the choice Republicans will have to make when it comes to strengthening our country," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said. "On election day, Republicans will have a choice between two very different records and visions for our future."

Romney's only ads to date singling out an opponent have been focused on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Those ads ran in Iowa, where Romney led most polls until Huckabee surged into the lead.

Huckabee said recently, "The attacks are dishonest and they're desperate. You know why? Because we're winning in this campaign, and there are some folks who don't like that.''

Romney's latest ad began airing Friday as part of the campaign's rotation in New Hampshire. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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