Obama: Campaign in `Bounds’

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Barack Obama during the daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on August 20, 2012.

President Barack Obama says his campaign has not gone “out of bounds” in criticizing Republican challenger Mitt Romney, though he can’t say the same for the super-PAC backing him.

Asked about a Web video that the Obama-backing Priorities USA Action has produced, in which a laid-off worker at a steel company taken over by Bain Capital speaks of his wife dying of cancer after they lost their health insurance,  Obama said: “I don’t think that Governor Romney was somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad.”

“But keep in mind that this is an ad that I didn’t approve, I did not produce, and as far as I can tell has barely run,” the president said. “I think it ran once.”  He said in an impromptu news conference today: “If you look at the overall trajectory of our campaign, and the ads that I have approved and are produced by my campaign, you’ll see that we point out sharp differences between the candidates, but we don’t go out of bounds.”

The ad in question may have run on TV only once (in the political battleground of Columbus, Ohio) since it was unveiled on Aug. 7, yet it has drawn almost one million viewers on YouTube. And it was all over cable news stations for days.

The ad features a former steel plant worker, Joe Soptic, talking about how his family lost health insurance, and his wife died, after Bain Capital LLC, the Boston-based private equity firm that Romney co-founded, closed the plant where Soptic was employed.  “I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he has done to anyone. And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned,” Soptic says in the ad.

Republicans and fact checkers say the ad makes unfair claims linking Romney to the death of Soptic’s wife. Priorities USA Action says the ad aired by mistake in Ohio.  The candidates’ campaigns are not allowed to coordinate with outside groups such as super-PACs.

Obama says that while he’s running a campaign that seeks to highlight “sharp” policy differences, Romney is the one who has gone for blood.

“In contrast you’ve got Governor Romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we’re taking the work requirement out of welfare,” said Obama, calling that “patently false.”

Obama said his administration has agreed to approve giving five governors, including two Republicans, some “flexibility” in how they manage welfare programs in their state.



–With reporting by Greg Giroux

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