WASHINGTON (AP) — A resurgent Mitt Romney is popping up more in other Republican candidates' ads as both parties press their closing arguments in closely contested Senate races.
President Barack Obama continues to be referenced in negative ads aimed at boosting GOP candidates. His own party's Senate hopefuls are keeping their distance from the president, turning to Bill Clinton when they feel the need for a presidential embrace.
The tactics reflect that a huge part of this year's battle for control of the Senate is being waged in conservative-leaning states such as Montana, North Dakota, Arizona and Indiana, where the candidates are hoping Romney's uptick in polls will propel their candidacies as well.
"The stakes are high, Montana. I urge you to send Denny to the Senate and we'll get America back on track," Romney says in the latest ad from Republican Denny Rehberg. Romney cut a similar ad for Senate candidate Jeff Flake of Arizona and had already appeared in a spot for Republican Richard Mourdock of Indiana.
Some outside groups also are incorporating the presidential race into their final Senate ads.
"With Mitt Romney as president, we can get our country back on track, but not with Heidi Heitkamp in the Senate," says the latest ad in North Dakota from Crossroads GPS, started by former George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove. The group is hoping its ads will help Republican Rick Berg prevail.
The strategy for the Democratic candidates in these conservative-leaning states is to display a strong sense of independence. They need to get voters to split their tickets to prevail. That means no images of Obama and a laser-like focus on coming across as someone who will work across party lines to do what's best for the state. Heitkamp's latest ad talks about her roots growing up in the small town of Mantador.