This qualifies as an attack ad — but it’s difficult to critique it as unwarrantedly negative or particularly unfair, given that it consists entirely of quotes from other sources. No context is provided for the quotes, but it’s a 30-second ad, so that’s what you’d expect.

Depending upon the political persuasion of the audience, it might make a viewer or two think more favorably of Mitt Romney. The anybody-but-Mitt audience will watch it, nod their heads sagaciously and walk away from the TV reinforced in their unwavering faith that Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper who should not be at the helm of the Republican Party. Whether it resonates with the undecided crowd will depend upon whether undecideds care about the particular issues highlighted in this ad.

The bigger issue is whether the brief, “I’m Rick Santorum and I approve this message” at the end will be enough to inform viewers whom the ad is for. Presumably, anyone following the primaries will know from the first frame that it must come from the Rick Santorum camp, but not everybody who randomly catches the ad will know that.

Romney’s campaign (and especially his Super PAC) has proved it’ll attack anyone who poses a threat to Romney and Romney himself proved that again last night. Conventional wisdom suggests Santorum is right to hit back. If that’s the case, this isn’t necessarily the best he could do. Santorum’s attacks are at their best when they focus narrowly on Romneycare and Romney’s support for the Wall Street bailouts, and this ad jumps around a bit from issue to issue. Nevertheless, I’m sure it makes Romney rue — yet again — the sentences he uttered thoughtlessly when his stated political aspirations reached no higher than the Massachusetts governor’s mansion.

Personally, though, I’d like to see an ad of a different nature come from the Santorum campaign. One of the biggest differences I see between Romney and Santorum — and it’s a difference that works in Santorum’s favor — is Santorum’s willingness to acknowledge and accept responsibility for his past mistakes. For example, last night, he said flat-out that he regretted his vote for No Child Left Behind. That takes an inordinate amount of humility that Romney has never demonstrated. Romney has been given ample opportunities to disavow Romneycare and he has never once done it.

Why not a Santorum ad with the theme, “The Courage to Say ‘I Was Wrong'”? If nothing else, it would resonate with girlfriends and wives across the country who particularly appreciate a man who can say, “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” And aren’t folks always saying Santorum needs to do something to appeal to the gals he supposedly keeps alienating with his anti-contraception, pro-stay-at-home-motherhood talk?