I finally got around to watching the hard-hitting Priorities USA "Understands" ad, in which Joe Soptic tells the story of how he lost his job and his health insurance when Bain closed the plant where he worked, and of how his wife died of cancer because the family didn't have health insurance.
Now, we're all aware of the firestorm this ad has provoked. In Jon Stewart's take (from BruinKid's transcript in today's diary):
That's what I'm talking about. Don't dance around Romneyhood or Obamaloney. MITT ROMNEY KILLED THAT GUY'S WIFE!! Who's full of Obamaloney now, wife-killer Romney?And, of course, Romney may have killed his campaign when his spokersperson, defending her candidate from the attacks, quite correctly pointed out Mrs. Soptic would have had full access to the medical care she needed had the family lived in Massachusetts.
Take a bow, super PAC guy who created the homicidal Romney ad.
But what does the ad actually say? As an organizer, I'll tell you I have no problem walking up to an undecided voter and selling them on the real content of the ad. Transcript and discussion below the fold.
According to Mark Halperin at Time, this is the transcript of the ad. The entire text is Soptic's voice:
“I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to people’s lives by closing the plant. [...] I don’t think he realizes that people’s lives completely changed. When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my healthcare, and my family lost their 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 that we couldn’t afford the insurance, and then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia and that’s when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days. [...] I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."I've added ellipses to the transcript at those points where there are audio cues of an editing cut. At the first cut, about the 15 second mark, there is a caption on the screen which says:
Mitt Romney and Bain Capital made millions for themselves and then closed this steel plant. Reuters, 1/6/12The second cut occurs at about the 22 second mark. About ten seconds later, while Soptic is talking about his wife hiding her illness, a second caption appears on the screen:
Joe eventually found work as a custodian. The job paid less than half his previous salary.The message here is completely defensible, because it's true. Romney made millions of dollar by closing down a steel plant. The workers at that plant were unable to find jobs which paid as well or offered as good benefits as the jobs they had lost. As a result of their descent out of the middle class, the families of those workers suffered real consequences, up to and including premature death. Mitt Romney, who profited tremendously by throwing them out of work and causing the downgrade of their standard of living, does not understand or really care about their suffering.
This ad makes no outrageous charge against Romney, but simply and starkly spells out the human cost of economic "dislocation." It is also completely on message with the broadest themes of the Obama campaign, that Romney is an out of touch elitist who seeks to profit at the expense of average Americans.
I'm proud of this ad. I'll put it on my phone and defend it at the door when I talk with persuadable voters.
This is the message we need to communicate to win this election. This is the message we need to communicate to take back our country and to restore our democracy.