Supporters of President Obama refused Thursday to pull a TV ad suggesting that Republican Mitt Romney caused a woman to die from cancer, a commercial that’s raising new questions about possible coordination between the Obama campaign and an “independent” advocacy group founded by a former White House staffer.
“You know, in the past when somebody pointed out that something was inaccurate, campaigns either pulled the ad – they were embarrassed,”Mr. Romney said Thursday on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show. “Today, they just blast ahead.”
But officials at Priorities USA, a super PAC founded by former White House spokesman Bill Burton, showed no signs of canceling the advertisement that began airing this week. Even some Democrats say the ad finally crossed the line into the realm of the underhanded, with its strong inference that Mr. Romney has a dead woman’s blood on his hands.
The ad features steelworker Joe Soptic, who lost his job and health benefits after Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital closed a steel plant in Kansas City, Mo., in 2001. He describes how his wife developed cancer and died, implying her death was Mr. Romney’s fault.
It turns out that Mr. Soptic’s wife died in 2006, five years after the plant closed. And Mrs. Soptic had her own health insurance even after her husband became unemployed; she lost her insurance when she, too, lost her job.
Some Democrats have condemned the ad. Former Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, called it “over the edge.” Lanny Davis, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, said the ad is “disgusting.” And Mika Brzezinski, progressive co-host of the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC, accused Obama campaign officials of “not telling the truth” about how much they knew about the commercial.
Both Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign adviser, and deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter have said the knew nothing about the details of Mrs. Soptic’s illness, and they had nothing to do with the ad.
“You do know that we don’t have anything to do with Priorities USA. … I don’t know the facts of when Joe Soptic’s wife got sick or when she died,”Ms. Cutter said Wednesday.
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