By Daniel Strauss - 08/09/12 12:53 PM EDT
The founder of the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action defended the group's controversial ad that links Mitt Romney to the death of woman who couldn't afford cancer treatments.
"The point of this ad is that — you know, it’s to tell the story of one guy, Joe Soptic, and the impact on his life that happened for years, and to this day, as a result of decisions that Mitt Romney made," Priorities USA founder Bill Burton said Wednesday night in an interview with CNN.
The ad's narrative has been questioned. Fact-checkers pointed out that Soptic's wife, Ranae, died six years after Romney left Bain and that she had health insurance through her own employer. Also, Romney was running the Salt Lake Olympics at the time Soptic's plant was closed.
Burton said the purpose of the ad was to highlight the consequences of Romney's decision at Bain, and not to hold the presumptive GOP nominee personally responsible for her death.
"We're not saying Mitt Romney is culpable for that. What we're saying is that Joe Soptic was fired from his job, and as a result of that, he wasn’t able to get — he wasn’t able to hold onto healthcare benefits that were promised to him. And as a result, when his wife got sick, he didn't have healthcare."
Asked about the impression the ad left that Romney was responsible, Burton denied that was the ad's intention.
"I just don't think that's true, and we would never make that case."
Burton said that the ad would air in battleground states around the United States and that the super-PAC would be spending $20 million on the ad. The ad is set to air in Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Romney campaign has called the ad "dishonest."
“I think that President Obama’s attacks have been so low and so despicable on a personal level that they’re backfiring on him,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told Fox News on Wednesday.
“If people had been in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” she added.
Obama's reelection team has denied any knowledge of the ad, even though Soptic was featured in a May conference call hosted by the campaign, pointing out it is legally not allowed to coordinate with super-PACs.
— This article was updated at 9:36 a.m.