Joe Soptic is a former steelworker who was laid off when the plant at which he worked closed in 2001. The Obama super-PAC says that Mitt Romney killed Soptic’s wife, Ilyona Soptic.
If you haven’t heard this story already, I’m afraid this is no joke. The story goes like this: Romney laid off Soptic, causing his wife to lose her health insurance, so she couldn’t get treatment for her cancer, so she died.
The ad contains two actual facts: Soptic lost his job, and his wife tragically died of cancer. Everything else is a lie. Let’s see if we can list them all:
- Romney left Bain in 1999, two years before GST Steel was shut down in 2001.
- When GST was shut down, Bain was run by Jonathan Lavine, a major Obama bundler.
- GST offered Joe Soptic a buyout.
- After GST shut down, Joe Soptic got another job and could have added Ilyona to his health insurance, but chose not to.
- Ilyona had her own health insurance through 2003, when she lost her job at a different company.
- Ilyona wasn’t diagnosed with cancer until 2006. She died 22 days later.
It’s sad that Ilyona died. But her death had nothing whatsoever to do with Mitt Romney. If such a tenuous connection really meant anything, think of how many deaths we can blame on Barack Obama, whose policies have and will cost millions of people their health insurance!
The ad is so radioactive that the Obama campaign wants to distance itself from it. But, at the same time, they won’t condemn the ad either. Instead, they tried to split the difference:
Asked about the Priorities spot on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Robert Gibbs said he doesn’t “know the specifics” while Stephanie Cutter said on CNN: “I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance.” And Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One that “we don’t have any knowledge of the story of the family,” according to Yahoo! News.
By claiming not to know the facts, they want to insinuate that it might be true while keeping their hands clean. (Now, in a situation such as this, that doesn’t cut it. If you don’t know the facts, you need to learn them. But never mind, because. . .)
This too is a complete lie:
Yet in May of this year, Cutter herself hosted a conference call in which Soptic detailed his case to reporters. During the call, as he did in the ad, Soptic explained how his wife fell ill after he lost his job, and how he lost his health insurance. The call took place as Soptic began appearing in Obama campaign ads, and was featured in a profile on the Obama campaign website.
Not only does Soptic appear in two Obama campaign ads, the Obama campaign still has Soptic on its official website even now. (Screenshot here.)
Let’s review: Barack Obama’s endorsed super-PAC releases the most vicious attack ad ever. The ad is a complete lie. The central figure in the ad has a long and ongoing history with the official Obama campaign. And, the Obama campaign lied about that history.
POSTSCRIPT: The Onion treatment.
UPDATE: Now this is just sad:
Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Sunday she has “no idea” about the political affiliation of Priorities USA, the Super PAC behind a recent ad suggesting Mitt Romney is responsible for a woman’s death — though the group was co-founded by two former Obama staffers.
Wasserman-Schultz also defended the ad’s content (!) saying “What I think of the ad is that there’s no question that the ad raises facts.”
In fact, Priorities USA is not only run by former Obama staffers; it received President Obama’s official blessing:
Fearing a tide of spending by outside conservative groups, President Obama is giving his blessing to a pro-Democratic Party “super PAC” that will work to help his reelection, his campaign said late Monday. . . Messina said Obama will throw his support to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC founded by two former White House aides that until now has been unable to match its conservative competitors in fundraising.
Wasserman-Schultz later had to concede:
The Florida Democrat later backtracked on that remark on Twitter: “Clearly Priorities USA is a Democratic SuperPAC. Was trying to state the obvious: we have no control over their activities.”
That is clearly not what she was trying to state (she had even gone so far as to question whether Priorities USA was even run by Democrats), but even that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Although they can’t legally “coordinate” with the PAC, it’s easy for them to signal what they want. For instance, they might have Joe Soptic tell his (bogus) story on a conference call.
Moreover, how certain are we that the Obama campaign really doesn’t coordinate with his PAC? They say it’s illegal, as if that were somehow proof that they’re not doing it. But the law rarely seems to be a conclusive factor with this bunch. Why would they suddenly start following the law in the single area — getting re-elected — that matters to them most?