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Press Confronts White House on 'Romney Killed My Wife' Ad -- Response: Sorry, Our Hands Are Tied

"I’m not going to ... judge and [assess] every third party ad that’s out there."

The pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA on Tuesday released an ad accusing Mitt Romney of being somehow responsible for the death of the wife of Joe Soptic, a former GST Steel employee and a known Obama campaign operative.

But despite the fact that the ad has been proven 100 percent false, and therefore reflects poorly on the administration, the White House maintains that it can’t say or do anything about it because it was produced by a third party group.“You keep trying to refer to it as an outside group,” NBC’s Chuck Todd said to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during Friday’s press briefing.

“This is a group that David Plouffe has raised money for. David Plouffe works in the West Wing. This is a group that the campaign has asked to come to the cabinet to help raise money. This isn’t just some third party group. So, you do have standing. How do you not have standing when you speak out about this?” he asked.

“Again, as a matter of, as I understand it, the law, [the White House] has no control over what third party groups --” Carney began to say before being cut off.

“The law says you can’t condemn an ad?” Todd asked.

Carney reiterated that the White House has no opinion whatsoever on the ad.

Here's Fox's Ed Henry questioning Carney over the same point [via Mediaite]

Todd wasn’t satisfied with Carney's response.

“You made this general request…to the Romney campaign: Mitt Romney ought to distance himself, whether it’s a Donald Trump thing, whether it was Mr. Ricketts,” Todd said.*

“So you’ve actually made those same requests, so, if you believe that they either stand by it or don’t stand by it, how are you not held to the same standard?” he persisted.

Carney argued that the ad is a campaign issue. Todd replied by pointing out that the White House has gone after “false” advertising before and that the decision to have no opinion on an ad tying Mitt Romney to someone’s death is kinda'-sorta' arbitrary.

“Again, millions of dollars spent by the other campaign in states across the country, blatantly misrepresenting the president’s policy on an issue --” Carney started to say before he was caught for his obvious mistake.

“So on that, you will speak for the campaign?”

“It’s on policy!” Carney responded. “I know what the policy is and I take issue, as someone who speaks for and defends and explains the president’s policies, uh, with that representation of it.”

“What I’m not going to do is become a judge and assessor of every third party ad that’s out there. Again, just the other day, there was an ad -- again, broadcast with real money, paid for by some group out there, conservative group -- questioning the president’s citizenship,” he added.

And if you’re not familiar with the “Romney Kills” video, here it is:

Unsurprisingly, as noted before on TheBlaze, the reaction to the ad has been a mixture of shock and disgust. And because the common reaction has been a big, hearty “Are you Serious?", Team Obama has tried to step away from the ad.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter claimed that neither she nor the Obama campaign knew anything about the details of Soptic’s family situation. Meanwhile, campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday "we don't have any knowledge of the story of the family." Even Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs pleaded ignorance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when the panel asked him what he thought of the fraudulent ad.

But there are two major problems with Cutter’s and Psaki’s claim. First, Soptic is no stranger to Team Obama. You see, the laid off steelworker is a veteran of anti-Romney ads and he spoke personally with Cutter and others during a conference call in May:

Second, as TheBlaze's Chris Field notes, the Obama campaign had already implicated Romney in the death of Soptic's wife, meaning Cutter and Psaki lied when they said they were unfamiliar with his story [via BuzzFeed]:

That slide clearly blames Romney for the death of Soptic’s wife despite the fact that Romney left Bain in 1999 (do we really need to keep going over this?), GST Steel was shuttered in 2001, Soptic’s wife passed away in 2006, and the fact that Soptic’s wife had insurance through her own employer. Oh, yeah, Bain’s managing director at the time of GST’s bankruptcy was none other than top Obama bundler Jonathan Lavine.

Of course, because this is the age of the internet, it wasn't long before all these facts came to light and the Obama campaign was forced to fess up.

"No one is denying that he was in ... one of our campaign ads," Psaki eventually admitted, adding that Soptic was indeed involved in a campaign conference call in May. However, she maintains that the outrage over the "Romney Kills" ad is unfair because the Romney campaign lied in its “Obama Gutted Welfare Reform” ad.

Pretty much the same thing, right?

Let's do a quick recap: Team Obama has been caught in, to put it bluntly, a big lie; it has been forced to admit that it knows who Joe Soptic is; and it has been discovered that this isn’t the first time they’ve implicated Romney in the death of Soptic’s wife. Understandably, this has led many to believe that the Obama campaign illegally coordinated with a Super PAC on the “Romney Kills” ad.

Oh, one more thing: You know TheBlaze reported in May Soptic was offered a buyout before the company went belly up, right?

Anyway, since the release of the fraudulent ad, Romney's people have returned fire:

Bonus: When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the video, Priorities USA founder and former White House spokesman Bill Burton claimed they never meant to imply Romney was somehow responsible for the death of Soptic’s wife.

No, really. He said that. This is what conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had to say to that:

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

*Contrary to what he said in today's press conference, there was a time when Carney had no problem denouncing third party ads.

One last thing…
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