Mitt Romney, still talking about the Joe Soptic story in his campaign's latest ad:
VOICEOVER: 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? What does it say about a president's character when he and his campaign raise money for the ad, then stood by as his top aides were caught lying about it? Doesn't America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?If you haven't seen the ad that has got Romney so angry, it was released earlier this week by the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA. It tells the story of Joe Soptic, who in 2001 lost his job at a steel plant owned by Bain. When Romney's firm shut down the factory, every worker lost his job and health insurance, but Romney and Bain made millions. Soptic's wife was able to get insurance from her own job, but she soon lost that as well, and in 2006, she died of cancer 22 days after it was discovered during a visit to the emergency room.
ROMNEY: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message.
According to Romney's campaign, to tell this story is to accuse Mitt Romney of murder. But that's absurd. Mitt Romney is not directly responsible for the death of Soptic's wife and nobody says he is.
We'll never know whether health insurance would have saved Soptic's life, but at least it would have given her a better chance. And although Mitt Romney isn't the only reason she didn't have insurance, he was CEO and sole-owner of Bain Capital when Soptic lost the insurance that could have covered her.
Romney's campaign has pointed out that if Soptic had lived in Massachusetts, his wife would have gotten coverage there, thanks to Romneycare. But now Mitt Romney opposes extending Romneycare throughout the nation. He wants to repeal Obamacare, which would deny the security of health insurance to the Joe Soptics of the future, and the only reason he's taken that position is to preserve his political viability within the Republican Party.
So not only did Mitt Romney play a role in Soptic losing health insurance coverage, he now opposes the law that would make make sure that no American ever again will be forced to go without coverage. Thanks to Obamacare, every single American will have access to affordable health insurance starting in 2014. Mitt Romney wants to take that away.
Does all this make Romney a murderer? No.
But does it mean Mitt Romney's business practices caused people like Joe Soptic to lose their health insurance so that he could make more money? Yes.
And does Mitt Romney want to repeal Obamacare, which will guarantee every American access to affordable health insurance? Yes.
Those questions are entirely reasonable for a campaign. If Joe Soptic's story makes Republicans uncomfortable, then they should take it up with Mitt Romney, because he's the issue here. Not President Obama.
Oh, and one last thing: Romney's ad claims that the Priorities USA ad was run by the Obama campaign. That's not true, but I wouldn't rely on that fact to sidestep this debate. Moreover, it sets a precedent that Romney now sees himself as being responsible for his own Super PAC ads, and that's going to be a bigger problem for him than the president. Also, Romney says President Obama himself raised funds for this ad. That's not entirely true. President Obama has authorized his campaign to support Priorities USA in fundraising as allowed by law, but he is not personally raising funds for the group. But these facts are side notes: The central issue here is that Mitt Romney refuses to confront the issue at the heart of the Soptic story.