Ad attacking Obama over super-PAC cancer video to air in Iowa

Mitt Romney's campaign is expanding its ad buy for a commercial questioning President Obama's character over a super-PAC video linking the GOP presidential candidate to the death of a woman from cancer.

The Romney ad will now air in the key swing state of Iowa, to coincide with the president’s three-day trip there, the campaign confirmed Tuesday to The Hill.

"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?" asks the narrator in the Romney commercial first unveiled Friday. “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?”

The ad shows clips from media reports and commenters criticizing the controversial ad from the pro-Obama Priorities USA political action committee. 

“Doesn’t America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?” the Romney ad concludes. 

The super-PAC video in question featured a former steel worker, Joe Soptic, who said he lost his job and healthcare benefits after his company was bought and shuttered by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm formerly headed by Romney. Soptic suggests that his wife, who subsequently died of cancer, failed to seek adequate healthcare because she feared they could not afford treatment.

Reports, though, say Soptic’s wife died six years after Bain bought her husband’s company and that she had health insurance through her own employer. Romney was also not in charge of the investment firm when her husband was let go.

Romney’s team has kept pressure on the Obama campaign over the ad, claiming it is an unfair attack, but the president’s advisers say they had nothing to do with the Priorities USA video and cannot, under election law, coordinate with the super-PAC. 

“I don’t have any control over that ad. I’m not part of Priorities super-PAC. I’ve never raised money for Priorities super-PAC,” said Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs in an interview Monday. 

On Sunday, senior adviser David Axelrod rebuffed suggestions that the ad was blaming Romney for the death of Soptic’s wife.

“I don't think Gov. Romney can be blamed for that woman's death. What he can be blamed for is taking that steel company to bankruptcy, walking away with millions of dollars, and leaving workers without pensions, without the health coverage they were promised,” he said.

The super-PAC ad has not been broadcast, and Priorities has not clarified if it will actually air. 

—This story was updated at 9:28 a.m.