It didn’t take long for Team Romney to go on offense over the despicable attack ad from Priorities USA Action that strongly implied that Mitt Romney was responsible for the death of a spouse laid off by GST — several years before her diagnosis, and long after Romney left Bain Capital’s active management. Today the Romney campaign released a new TV-ready ad that attacks Barack Obama for “scraping bottom” and asks, “What does it say about a president’s character that tries to use the tragedy of a woman’s death for political gain?”
The ad title is “America Deserves Better,” but it could be just as easily called “The Death of Hope and Change”:
There is actually another question asked in this ad: “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?” Obama campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter, who tried claiming that she didn’t have any knowledge of Soptic’s details even though she had hosted a conference call introducing him to the media, has canceled an appearance this weekend on ABC’s This Week. So far she’s still working for the campaign, and even today, the White House and Barack Obama have refused to criticize the super-PAC ad, or the former Obama aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney who ran it. Mark Knoller reported on Twitter that Jay Carney still won’t talk about the ad:
Carney remains unwilling to offer WH comment on pro-Obama PAC ad attempting to link Romney to death of steelworker's wife.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 10, 2012
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed reported a few minutes ago that Romney had an opportunity to run a similar ad against Mike Huckabee in 2008 — and vetoed it:
And while Romney has run his share of misleading commercials, to the bookThe Real Romney the candidate himself vetoed a negative ad that linked one of his primary opponents in 2008 to the death of a woman, seeing it as “desperate.”
It was October 2007 and Mike Huckabee was on the rise in Iowa, threatening Romney’s chances to win the state’s caucuses in January. Alex Castellanos, then the chief strategist for Romney’s campaign, suggested a harsh attack ad based on a a detail turned up in opposition research: Mike Huckabee had paroled a convicted rapist who, after his release, raped and murder a woman in 2003. …
Some in Romney’s circle feared the ad would backfire on them, and the final decision to run the ad was left to Romney himself. Romney thought the ad seemed “desperate” and “created sympathy for Huckabee.” In the end, Romney killed the ad.
In December, when Huckabee’s surge was finally realized, Romney ran a softer ad hitting Huckabee for paroling criminals, without mentioning the death of the woman post-parole.
My father likes to say, “Class will tell.” It certainly has in this case.
Update: A source close to the campaign tells me that this ad will be a “real buy” in swing states.