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Obama Camp Still on Defense Regarding Priorities USA Ad

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
David Axelrod, a top campaign adviser to President Barack Obama, tried to distance the campaign from a controversial super PAC ad.

Lawmakers and operatives made the rounds on the Sunday morning news shows to weigh in on the pro-Obama super PAC ad that connects presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to the death of a woman whose husband was laid off.

"That isn't stated in the ad. It's not a fair implication," David Axelrod, a top campaign adviser for President Barack Obama, told NBC's "Meet the Press" about a Priorities USA spot that features a Kansas City man who lost his job at a company that went bankrupt in 2001 after it was taken over by Bain Capital, a company founded by Romney.

"It's disgraceful," Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, countered on "Fox News Sunday."

The advertisement, which never aired on television, shows Joe Soptic, a former employee at GST Steel, who tells the story of losing his job and then his wife to cancer because he no longer had health insurance through his employer. However, his wife's employer continued to provide her with insurance, and she did not die of cancer until five years after Soptic lost his job, according to Politifact.

The Obama campaign tried to distance itself from the ad, saying that, by law, it does not and cannot coordinate with the super PAC, but officials were caught flat-footed earlier in the week. An Obama campaign spokeswoman claimed she had no idea about the ad's details and yet Soptic had been featured in an official campaign call in May.

The Romney campaign has hit back with an ad of its own, called "America Deserves Better," that opens with the line, "What does it say about a president's character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman's death for political gain?" And Romney has attacked the ads when asked about them.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, stressed on "Fox News Sunday" that the official Obama campaign is not responsible for the ad.

"That is not a Democratic ad; that is a Priorities USA super PAC ad," she said. "I have no idea the political affiliation."

Though not officially connected with the Obama camp, Priorities USA was started by former Obama aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney.

"The closest advisers to President Obama are the people responsible for that ad," McCain said.

McCain, along with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who was short-listed to be Romney's running mate, said Obama had a responsibility to denounce the ad.

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