Mitt Romney aide cites Mass. healthcare law to criticize super-PAC ad

Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul cited the Massachusetts healthcare law, which the Obama campaign has called the template for the Affordable Care Act, while attacking a controversial new super-PAC ad.

In the ad, released by Obama backer Priorities USA, a steelworker said he could not pay for his wife’s cancer treatments after his company was bought and closed by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney.

“I think that President Obama’s attacks have been so low and so despicable on a personal level that they’re backfiring on him,” Saul told Fox News on Wednesday, pushing back against the ad.

“If people had been in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” she added.

The Obama campaign consistently has cited the Massachusetts healthcare law enacted by Romney when he was governor as the basis for the president’s own signature domestic legislation. 

Romney has defended the Bay State’s healthcare law, which includes an individual mandate, saying it was the best thing for his state but should not have been implemented at the federal level.

The individual mandate was the centerpiece — and most controversial aspect — of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have blasted as governmental overreach. Romney has vowed to repeal the law if elected. In the federal law, the mandate requires most people to purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

The ad from Priorities USA is part of a $20 million blitz hammering the presumptive GOP nominee on his business record at Bain Capital.

In the ad, Joe Soptic, a former worker for GST Steel, says he could not afford healthcare after he lost his job. The company was purchased by Bain Capital in the 1990s and went bankrupt in 2001. The plant’s workers were fired and lost their healthcare benefits.

“When Mitt Romney closed the plant, I lost my healthcare and my family lost its healthcare and a short time after that my wife became ill. I don’t know how long she was sick, and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew we couldn’t afford the insurance,” Soptic says in the ad. “And one day she became ill, and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital, and that’s when they found the cancer. And by then it was stage 4 and there was nothing they could do for her, and she passed away in two days."

Media reports said that Soptic’s wife, Renae, died in 2006, five years after he lost his job and that she might have had health insurance through her own provider.

The Romney campaign blasted the ad, charging that Obama allies were “using discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration’s deplorable economic record.”

Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Wednesday refused to condemn the ad, saying he did not "know the specifics" of the story and the campaign did not have any control over the super-PAC that produced it.