When confronted on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about a new pro-Obama ad accusing Mitt Romney of being somehow responsible for the death of the wife of Joe Soptic, a former employee at GST Steel in Kansas City, Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs really, really didn’t want to talk about it.
“This is an ad by an entity that’s not controlled by the campaign,” Gibbs said. “I certainly don’t know the specifics of this man’s case. I do think there is a lot of concern in the country about what happens when people lose their jobs.”
The anti-Romney ad explains that after GST was shuttered by Bain Capital, Soptic lost his healthcare coverage and couldn’t afford to take care of his cancer-stricken wife. As sad as his story is, let’s be clear about what the ad is trying to say: Because Soptic lost his healthcare coverage, a woman is dead and it’s kind of Mitt Romney’s fault.
But here are the facts:
1. Romney left Bain in 1999 (do we really need to keep going over this?)
2. Top Obama bundler Jonathan Lavine was Bain's managing director at the time of GST's bankruptcy
3. GST Steel was shuttered in 2001
4. Soptic's wife passed away in 2006
5. Soptic's wife had insurance through her own employer
Wouldn't you say it's just a bit of a stretch to blame Romney for her death?
“As everyone dusts off their white horse … let’s go through an ad we know the Romney campaign is entirely responsible for,” Gibbs said, trying to turn the conversation towards a discussion of Romney’s supposedly racist “Obama Gutted Welfare” ad.
But the panel wasn’t about to let him off the hook that easy.
“It goes to a different level. It’s a different kind of conversation,” Steele said, referring to the difference between debating policy and accusing someone of being responsible for the death of another. “You have a visceral reaction to this ad. Is it or is it not below the belt?”
Gibbs had nothing to say to that.
“The message is a little over the top. Can’t you admit that?” Scarborough asked.
“I don’t know the specifics of this person’s case,” Gibbs said.
“What specifics would you like to know?” asked Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.
Gibbs answered by saying he "didn’t know the specifics" of Soptic’s wife’s health care coverage.
Meanwhile, over at CNN's "Starting Point," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter didn't want to talk about the ad either.
“Is this ad accurate? Is it fair?” asked CNN's John Berman.
“I don’t know the facts about when his wife got sick, or the facts about his health insurance,” Cutter replied, “but what I do know is that Mitt Romney personally handled the deal to take over GS Steel, and personally handled some of the decisions made to load that company up with debt so much that it went underwater, it went bankrupt."
But is the presumed Republican presidential candidate responsible for someone's death?
Where is this communication breakdown coming from?
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