Well, it was only a matter of time.
After trying to paint presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a right-wing extremist (while simultaneously having no principles) who hates America, women, dogs, gays, and poor people, while also being a wimp, international embarrassment, and a felon who doesn’t pay his taxes, you can now add one more title to the list.
The pro-Barack Obama super PAC Priorities USA (to which Bill Maher, Morgan Freeman, and DreamWorks SKG have all donated millions) unleashed the most vicious ad of the 2012 campaign cycle yet this morning, an ad that personally points the blame for the death of a steel worker’s wife squarely on Romney:
The person featured in the ad, Joe Soptic, is the same person the Obama campaign featured in its first Bain Capital attack ad, which accused Romney of being a “vampire.” That ad did not get nearly as personal and Soptic did not mention his wife’s story at all.
For starters, FactCheck.org already covered this. As they reported, “With Romney at the helm, Bain Capital invested in the small Kansas City steel mill called GST Steel Co. in 1993. It was a company that traced its roots to 1888 but had fallen on hard times. According to the Kansas City Star, the company’s ranks had dropped from 4,500 employees in 1970 to just 1,500 employees by 1983.
In addition, the company was beset by aging equipment and faced stiff competition in a specialized market, according to a lengthy Reuters report on the company. Nonetheless, Bain saw potential in the company and, Reuters reported, invested $8 million in it.
Bain also reinvested an additional $16.5 million in the company, evidence that Bain intended to keep the firm going. Nevertheless, six years later, the company declared bankruptcy and eliminated 750 jobs.
Was it the debt load that doomed the company? Some analysts cited by Reuters said it certainly didn’t help. Others blamed the union or competition from Asia. In a 1999 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated, "Distressed economic conditions in other countries, particularly Asia, have resulted in record levels of imported steel products into the domestic market causing dramatic declines in selling prices industry-wide."
It was a very bad time in general for the steel industry in the U.S. A 2003 report from the U.S. International Trade Commission found that between 1999 and 2003, "31 steel companies producing products subject to the safeguard measures [including tariffs on foreign imports] have filed for bankruptcy protection."
FactCheck.org went on to conclude, “It isn’t that the facts of the attack ads are wrong, it’s that the companies are some of the worst performers in the Bain portfolio, which includes many more success stories. In fact, the Romney campaign countered with just such a story in an ad called ‘American Dream’ that highlighted Bain’s minority investment in Steel Dynamics, a company that has grown and added thousands of employees.”
More importantly, though, is the new low this campaign has reached.
The first thing that comes to mind is desperation. The next is disgust. Just a week ago, a co-worker of mine had joked, “What’s the only thing left that they haven’t accused Romney of being? A killer?”
I kidded, “Oh I’m sure it’s coming!”
Then it did. Sadly, I’m really not surprised.
The president is coming off of a weak economic performance and job creation record. So instead of focusing on policy and solutions, the Obama super PACs are instead falling back on what they know best: manipulating voter sentiment through emotional arguments.
The sheer absurdity of trying to tie someone’s death through six degrees of separation to Romney is clear. But I’d love to see how the left would react if a Romney super PAC did the same thing. What if American Crossroads went and interviewed the parents of deceased U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and then tried to pin his death from the botched Fast and Furious gun sting through six degrees of separation on President Obama? Can you imagine the outrage it would illicit?
This is no different. President Obama and his campaign should condemn this ad and apologize for the disturbing message it insinuates about Romney.