GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday said that he disapproves of a Republican super PAC's plan to link President Barack Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory comments, a tactic that had been used by some in 2008, but rejected by then-presidential candidate John McCain.
"I want to make it very clear: I repudiate that effort," Romney told reporters in Florida, repeating a claim that he made in an earlier interview. "I think it's the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign."
But Romney also alleged that the Obama campaign was leading the charge with negative attacks.
"Having a campaign focused on character assassination is one thing I find offensive among many others," he said.
The billionaire, Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and father of Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, has decided not to go forward with the campaign as a result of the pressure from Romney and Obama.
Asked about comments he gave to conservative commentator Sean Hannity earlier this year, Romney responded, "I stand by what I said, whatever it was."
At the time, Romney brought up Wright in order to criticize Obama for both being too secular and for being under the influence of Wright. "I’m not sure which is worse, him listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we ... must be a less Christian nation,” Romney said in a February interview.
(Video of those comments below)
HuffPost's Sam Stein reported that the Obama campaign had been prepared for this line of attack, though it came earlier than they had expected.
Campaign manager Jim Messina took aim at the report earlier Thursday, calling it a "hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination" and accusing Romney of falling "short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership."