Romney campaign swings back at Priorities USA ad

DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 08: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at Central Campus High School on August 8, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. Mitt Romney is campaigning in Iowa before traveling to New Jersey and New York for fundraising events. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan

(CBS News) A new TV ad out Friday by the Mitt Romney campaign calls intoquestion the president's character and intentions after a recent spot by a pro-Obama super PAC appeared to suggest the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is responsible for a woman's death by cancer.

"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?" a voice in the Romney ad says while news headlines such as "Scraping bottom" flash across the screen. "What does it say about a president's character when he had his campaign raise money for the ad then stood by as his top aides were caught lying about it?"

The original ad, by Priorities USA Action - a super PAC President Obama cleared for his top donors earlier this year - has drawn fire from both sides of the aisle. It features Joe Soptic, a former Kansas City steelworker whose wife passed away from cancer not long after Soptic lost his health insurance when Romney's company, Bain Capital, shut down his plant.

While the Obama campaign initially denied knowing "the specifics" of Soptic's story, spokeswoman Jen Psaki admitted Thursday that Soptic has appeared before in an ad produced directly by the Obama campaign, but questioned why reporters were focusing on work "done by an outside group."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney voiced similar concerns during Friday's daily briefing. He argued the ad by Priorities USA, a third party "that we obviously have no control over and with people we don't have contact with," is "qualitatively different" from a another controversial ad out recently by the Romney campaign, which accuses Mr. Obama of removing the work requirement from welfare - a claim Carney called "categorically false and blatantly dishonest."

Carney said he didn't know about another ad from the conservative American Crossroads, which calls on the president to denounce the suggestion that Romney contributed to the death of Soptic's wife, but called it "rich with irony."

"I'm wondering - there's so many different groups out there - if that particular Republican super PAC is urging itself or the Republican candidate or some other Republican leader to denounce the other third-party Republican super PAC ad that questions whether the president is an American citizen." Carney was referring to an ad called "Shady Past" by the Conservative Majority Fund.

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