The back-and-forth over a pair of controversial ads recently released by Mitt Romney’s campaign and a super PAC supporting President Obama spilled over into the Sunday morning news shows, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) calling the anti-Romney spot “disgraceful” and a top Obama adviser criticizing the Romney campaign’s negative ad against the president.
Last week, Priorities USA, the pro-Obama group, released a harsh ad tying Romney to the death of a steelworker’s wife. Republicans pushed back against the commercial, which the Washington Post Fact Checker gave four Pinocchios, a mark reserved for the most factually incorrect claims.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” McCain called on Obama to denounce the ad. He said he had “run out of adjectives and adverbs” for it, adding that “this president and the people around him promised hope and change, a new environment in Washington. And now it’s probably deteriorated into the most negative, most unpleasant, most disgraceful campaign I have ever observed.”
It’s worth noting that candidates and super PACs cannot coordinate, and Obama aides have claimed no knowledge of the ad’s details. Ad trackers last week showed the ad had not actually run on TV.
On the same program, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz distanced herself from the ad and the group responsible for it. “I have no idea of the political affiliation of folks who are associated with that super PAC,” she said. Priorities USA is headed by Bill Burton, a former spokesman in the Obama White House.
When asked on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” whether Obama agreed with the ad, his adviser, David Axelrod said, “I don’t think Governor Romney can be blamed for that woman’s death.” He also pivoted to a discussion about a Romney campaign ad that argues Obama wants to gut welfare reform. That ad also received four Pinocchios from the Washington Post Fact Checker.
“Every single person who’s looked at it said it’s false. He continues to run it. He says I approve this message, and then he attacks others for ads that we didn’t approve and that we didn’t produce? I think he’s the one who needs to explain,” Axelrod said on ABC. The Obama campaign has released its own response ad noting that the president is not removing the welfare’s bill work requirement.
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty appeared on the same program and was also asked about the Romney spot. Pawlenty defended Romney, saying, “If [Obama] is saying he’s not as part of his directive going to rescind or undermine the work requirements, then just clarify that part of it. But he refuses to do it.”