Mitt Romney’s team is exploiting a discredited claim by allies of President Barack Obama to aggressively argue that the president is desperate and untrustworthy.
“Doesn’t America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?” says a new Romney ad, which highlights criticism of a controversial video that suggests Romney caused the death by cancer of a woman in 2006.
The new ad was boosted by Romney’s top aides.
“I don’t think a world champion limbo dancer could get any lower than the Obama campaign right now,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser, told reporters Friday. The president has “squandered what has always been one of his key attributes — that he was a different kind of politician who was going to take us to a better place.”
The message is pushed by Romney’s new ad, which focuses on an Internet video produced by the Obama-allied Priorities USA super PAC.
The video shows Joe Soptic, a former union organizer at GST Steel, and suggests that Romney was responsible for the sudden death of Soptic’s wife from cancer in 2006.
Her death came five years after Bain shut down the money-losing, low-tech steel company in 2001, and seven years after Romney left Bain in 1999 to manage the 2002 Winter Olympics. Soptic’s wife had health insurance after GST was closed down.
The super PAC is run by Bill Burton, a former spokesman for Obama. The president has allowed his top deputies to speak at the super PAC’s fundraising events.
Romney’s counter comes after the Soptic ad was slammed by media personalities sympathetic to Obama.
“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 Romney ad begins.
“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?” says the Romney ad, titled “America Deserves Better.”
Obama’s campaign exacerbated its Soptic problem by initially arguing that it had little knowledge of Soptic.
That claim was discredited when reporters showed that the campaign had put Soptic on a conference call with reporters, and had published his cancer claim in a slideshow for reporters.
On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeatedly refused to condemn the Soptic ad. “That’s not my job and I do not have any role in third-party groups that produce these ads,” he told reporters.
Watch “Mitt Romney Killed My Wife” ad:
Romney’s “America Deserves Better” ad: