Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super-PAC under fire for airing a controversial ad that links Mitt Romney to the death of woman from cancer, announced Friday the release of a new ad featuring a similar message but without the controversy.
The ad, called "Scrap Steel," profiles Joe Whitley, a 29-year employee of GST Steel in Kansas City, Kan. In the ad, Whitley criticizes Romney and Bain Capital — which Romney previously headed — for shuttering the company and walking away with a profit.
Like the first ad, it features a worker who criticizes Bain for shuttering GST Steel's plant. But in the first ad, steelworker Joe Soptic claims his wife died after Bain closed his company and he lost his job and health insurance. Independent fact-checkers have shown that his wife died six years after the company closed, that she had insurance through her employer and that Romney was not at the helm of Bain at the time.
The Romney campaign used the controversial cancer ad to dismiss the new spot.
“Just days after the President’s Super PAC released a heinous and despicable ad, and the Obama campaign was caught lying about it, the President’s allies have again come out with another discredited attack," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "After 42 months of unemployment above eight percent, it is clear that the President and his allies don’t have any rationale for reelection."
Bill Burton, the former White House aide who heads Priorities USA, said Friday that the ad was not intended to replace controversial cancer ad and will ship to television stations next week.
The cancer ad has not aired yet but is available online. Burton noted it has seen huge Web traction in swing states, saying that four of the top five states where people have viewed the ad are Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“It is the decisions [Romney] made in business that give the American people concerns about the kind of president he would be,” Burton said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, Romney's presidential campaign released a commercial of its own blasting the president for not denouncing the controversial ad.
“What does it say about a president’s character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman’s death for political gain?" says the narrator in the new Romney campaign ad. "What does it say about a president’s character when he had his campaign raise money for the ad then stood by as his top aides were caught lying about it? Doesn’t America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?”
And at a press briefing in Boston on Friday morning, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom echoed the attack, saying the ads from Obama's allies "diminish the office of president and insult the American people."
“They've gone from what started out as petty distortions and untruths to unbelievable exaggerations that diminish the office of president and insult the American people,” Fehrnstrom said, according to Buzzfeed. “I don’t think a world-champion limbo dancer could get any lower than the Obama campaign right now.”
Pressed during the White House briefing on Friday, press secretary Jay Carney noted the campaign cannot legally coordinate with super-PACs and that "we do not control the ad."
"What I 'm not going to do is become a judge, an assessor, of every third-party ad that's out there," Carney said.
This post was updated at 5:40 p.m.