New Romney ad: Unlike some people, I've been happily married to the same woman for years

The “unlike some people” is merely implied, but this one’s so heavy-handed that he might as well have tacked on a few shots of Newt with his ex-wives framed by a torn “heart” graphic. I’m tempted to say this will do Romney as much harm as good simply because it stinks of desperation driven by Gingrich’s surge, but in truth it probably will help him a bit. For every Iowa political junkie who long ago priced Newt’s personal issues into his stock, there are probably two or three socially conservative caucusgoers who haven’t paid much attention yet and are just now taking a close look at Gingrich. And yes, character does matter:

Romney kills two birds with one stone with ads like this, drawing the contrast with Gingrich and reassuring voters who might have issues with his religion that his values are right in line with theirs (and very much not polygamous). Here’s the thing, though: For all his claims of “constancy,” the same NYT poll linked above shows he’s the only candidate in the field whom most Iowa Republicans don’t quite trust. When asked whether Gingrich says what he believes most of the time or says what he thinks people want to hear, respondents split 63/30; when asked that about Romney, they split … 40/53. He’s the one and only candidate in the field whose numbers are underwater; even Huntsman is +10 on a 33/23 split. Not so good for the candidate of “constancy.”

Exit question: How serious a liability is this for Gingrich? He’s going to respond by saying that he regrets some personal mistakes he’s made but has found peace and redemption through God. And then he’s going to serve up a thick, juicy slab of red meat about how the atheists are paving the way for Islamists to take over America or something. Damage status: Controlled.

Update: Here’s Team Huntsman’s ode to “constancy.”