Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, renewed its attacks on Mitt Romney's record at private equity firm Bain Capital with the release of a new television ad Tuesday.
The ad, titled "Understands," focuses on Joe Soptic, a former employee at GST Steel in Kansas City, Kan. The steel plant was closed by Bain Capital in 2001.
In the commercial, Soptic recalls how he lost his job and health benefits and was subsequently unable to afford health insurance for his wife, who later died of cancer.
Soptic attributes part of this to the financial burden his family faced after he was out of a job, perhaps causing his wife not to seek treatment sooner.
"I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone," Soptic says in the ad. "And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."
The commercial will air in swing states Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Iowa, as part of the super PAC's $20 million project meant to highlight the impact of Romney's business record on middle class Americans. It is also the fifth in a series of ads featuring companies invested in by Bain Capital that either went bankrupt or were subject to severe layoffs.
The Obama campaign has also used the case of GST Steel to attack Romney's record at Bain Capital, although the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that the plant's closure was more likely related to the steel industry crisis of the 1990s, which drove 31 steel companies into bankruptcy between 1993 and 2001.
Priorities USA Action recently announced a $30 million ad reservation for the fall, boosted by increasing resources. The super PAC raised $6.1 million in June, marking its best fundraising month to date.
At times, the group has been accused of launching personal attacks on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but polls have indicated its advertising is resonating with voters in critical battleground states.
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, responded to the ad with the following statement:
President Obama’s allies continue to use discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration’s deplorable economic record. After 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that the President and his campaign do not have a rationale for reelection. He focused on health care instead of the economy, he hasn’t been able to pass a budget through Congress, he hasn’t been able to cut the deficit like he promised and he’s done little to change the way Washington works. Mitt Romney has a Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will jumpstart the economy and bring back millions of jobs.
UPDATE: 10:17 p.m. -- News reports have called into question the timeline of Soptic's wife's death as presented in the ad. CNN caught up with Soptic and learned that his wife actually died in 2006 -- years after the GST Steel plant closed.
The commercial implies that Soptic was unable to afford health insurance for his wife after he lost his job at the plant. But it turns out that Soptic's wife had her own employer-sponsored health insurance, and his policy through GST Steel was her secondary coverage. An injury forced Soptic's wife out of her own job, thus leaving her without health insurance.
Still, Soptic blames Romney for the loss of his own job and health insurance. "Mitt Romney is a very rich man," Soptic told CNN. "I mean, it is obvious if you watch him on television he is completely out of touch with the average family, you know, middle-income people. I don’t think he has any concept as to how when you close a big company how [it] affects families, the community -– you know, it affects everyone."
Any backlash to the new Priorities USA Action ad is unlikely to slow the negative, often unfair attacks launched by super PACs affiliated with both parties. A Romney campaign ad criticizing Obama over welfare reform, also released on Tuesday, was also flagged in news reports as both inaccurate and hypocritical.
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