The Times Square ball drop on New Year's Eve was officially sponsored by Toshiba, but if you tuned in right at midnight you could be forgiven for thinking Mitt Romney was bankrolling the celebration. As fireworks detonated to mark the first seconds of 2012, a red-white-and-blue "Mitt Romney 2012" billboard flashed behind the ball. An estimated one million people saw it in person (including me, from the comfort of Yahoo!'s Times Square office), and millions more tuned in on TV (in the past, ABC's special has attracted as many as 20 million viewers).
I'm not sure how many people in Iowa saw Romney's message in advance of the first-in-the-nation caucuses on January 3rd, but it's safe to say that buying advertising in New York City is not the most direct way to reach voters in Des Moines. Romney and his supporters are clearly thinking ahead to later contests and the general election. One unlimited-spending organization backing the former Massachusetts governor, Restore Our Future, is already pouring extra money into South Carolina and Florida advertising markets. With this sort of exposure, Romney is expressing clear confidence that he intends to have a very good 2012 indeed.
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