Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama and his reelection campaign on Thursday over a controversial ad released earlier this week by pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action that links the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to a woman's death.
“His campaign and the people working with him have focused almost exclusively on personal attacks,” Romney said in a radio interview on "Morning in America" with Bill Bennett.
The ad, released Tuesday, ignited an unprecedented amount of scrutiny by implying that a woman's cancer-related death could have been prevented if her husband not lost his job when Bain Capital, once led by Romney, closed down the steel plant where he worked. A number of outlets called into question the ad's accuracy, pointing out that the woman mentioned died in 2006 -- five years after the plant was shut down -- and also that she had her own employer-sponsored health insurance, even after her husband lost his job.
But instead of taking aim at the super PAC responsible, Romney directed his comments at the Obama campaign for refusing to condemn the ad or have it removed.
“You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad, they were embarrassed,” Romney told Bennett. “Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact-checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.”
Priorities USA Action's senior strategist Bill Burton stood by the ad in an interview with The Huffington Post. Burton said the super PAC was not blaming Romney for the woman's illness but trying to illustrate the long-term impact Romney and Bain Capital's actions have had on middle class Americans.
Romney's response on Thursday is the first time he has addressed the ad, but his comments overlook the criticism his own campaign has drawn for running an ad attacking Obama over welfare reform. "The various fact-checkers" Romney mentioned in his interview Thursday morning dismantled the Romney campaign's ad for falsely stating the president "gutted" former President Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reform law. Newt Gingrich even admitted there is "no proof" to the ad's claims in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.