Priorities USA, the super-PAC backing President Obama, unveiled a tough new ad Tuesday featuring a former steelworker who says he could not afford healthcare for his sick wife after his company was purchased and shut down by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney.
“I don't think Mitt Romney understands what he's done to people's lives by closing the plant,” says former GST Steel employee Joe Soptic, speaking to the camera in the new ad, titled “Understands.” “I don't think he realizes that people's lives completely changed.”
Soptic says his wife was dying of cancer when he lost his job and company health 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. “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 four and there was nothing they could do for her and she passed away in two days.”
The video shows clips of the shuttered steel plant as Soptic shares his story and title cards show newspaper headlines charging Romney with profiting from the closure of American businesses.
“I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned,” Soptic says as the ad concludes.
Romney’s campaign was quick to blast the commercial. “President Obama’s allies continue to use discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration’s deplorable economic record,” said spokesman Ryan Williams. “After 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that the President and his campaign do not have a rationale for reelection.”
The ad will air in the key battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and is part of a $20 million ad campaign by Priorities hammering Romney.
Soptic appeared previously in an Obama campaign ad that aired in battleground states in which he blasted Romney, saying Bain’s closure of the GST Steel plant had cost workers their pensions.
GST Steel was purchased by Bain Capital in the 1990s and went bankrupt in 2001. The plant’s workers were fired and lost their jobs and benefits.
Romney’s campaign has said the presumptive nominee was not involved in the decision to close the plant and had left Bain to manage the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
Soptic's wife, Ranae Soptic died in 2006, five years after GST Steel went bankrupt.
This story was last updated at 1:16 p.m.