The Obama campaign claims that they’re unfamiliar with the star of an ad by Democratic super PAC Priorities USA derided by conservatives — but they’ve featured the same person in their own TV spot and campaign events.
Republicans are in an uproar over a the Priorities USA ad, which features Joe Soptic as he recounts being laid off from a Bain-owned steel mill in Kansas City and suggests his wife’s fatal cancer may have been discovered earlier if he still had his employer-provided insurance.
Republicans complain that the ad is unfair — Scoptic’s wife died several years after the company in question went bankrupt and lost her own insurance later down the line — and that suggesting Romney is complicit in a woman’s death is below the belt even by the standards of a brutal presidential campaign.
Several Obama campaign aides, however, have dodged questions on the issue by saying they don’t know much about Soptic’s story since the ad is from an independent group.
“I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance,” campaign adviser Robert GIbbs told MSNBC this week.
But as Politico notes, the Obama campaign is familiar with Soptic. A conference call hosted by the campaign earlier this year featured Soptic recounting the same story used in the Priorities USA ad. Soptic also appeared in a campaign ad in May about Bain Capital.
Update: Obama campaign press secretary Ben Labolt tells Politico that the campaign can’t coordinate with Priorities USA because its an independent group, but doesn’t condemn the ad: “Joe Soptic suffered when he lost his job in the aftermath of the GST Steel plant closing, and no one is denying that he discussed that when he appeared in a campaign advertisement and on a conference call. The important point here is that Mitt Romney’s campaign is based solely on his experience as a corporate buyout specialist, and while he has been quick to claim he created jobs, he refuses to accept responsibility for the jobs that were lost and workers that were impacted.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.