Mitt Romney’s campaign took to the airwaves Friday to condemn an ad that ties the Republican presidential candidate to a woman’s death, releasing a TV ad of their own accusing President Obama’s campaign of trying to “use the tragedy of a woman’s death for political gain.”
The White House, though, continued to deflect questions Friday, as Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly said the president does not control “third-party” ads and made no move to condemn the ad from the most prominent pro-Obama super PAC.
The Obama administration’s response effectively has not changed since Tuesday, despite bipartisan claims that the ad is misleading and accusations that the president’s campaign aides lied about their familiarity with the subject.
The Romney campaign signaled it had no intention of letting these concerns fall by the wayside going into the weekend, however.
Its new TV ad splashes negative news reports about the super PAC video on-screen, while the narrator questions what the episode says about Obama’s integrity.
“What does it say about a president’s character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman’s death for political gain?” the narrator says. “What does it say about a president’s character when he had his campaign raise money for the ad then stood by as his top aides were caught lying about it?”
The anti-Romney super PAC ad featured ex-steelworker Joe Soptic, who recounts how his wife died of cancer after he lost his health insurance when his plant was shuttered after a takeover by Bain Capital and other companies working with the private equity firm.
The ad left out key details about the timeline, including that Soptic’s wife died five years after the plant closed, and years after Romney left Bain.
Obama campaign aides, shortly after the ad was unveiled, claimed to have little knowledge about Soptic’s case. However, Soptic had been featured in Obama campaign ads earlier in the year — and the Obama campaign even hosted a May conference call in which he told his story.
The Obama campaign and the White House have stressed that the group, Priorities USA, is as a super PAC a technically distinct group that is not supposed to coordinate with the campaign. The group, though, was co-founded by one of the president’s top former spokesmen.
Pressed repeatedly about the ad at Friday’s press briefing, Carney said he still hadn’t discussed the issue with the president.
“We do not control third-party ads,” Carney said.
Far from backing down, Priorities USA announced a new ad Friday in the same series on Bain Capital and Romney.
The ad features Joe Whitley, who worked at the same Kansas City steel company as Soptic before losing his job and health benefits when it filed for bankruptcy.
“They used us just like we were the scrap steel that we melted, you know, we were just a means to an end,” Whitley said.