It seemed like a powerful message.

On Tuesday, Priorities USA Action — a Democratic super PAC run by two former Obama White House aides and blessed by the president himself — released an advertisement featuring a former steelworker named Joe Soptic. He told a devastating story about losing his job and his health insurance just as his wife got sick with what turned out to be terminal cancer. Soptic’s job was eliminated by Bain Capital, the company that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney helped found.

The implication was clear: Because of actions by Romney, Soptic’s wife died. “I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned,” Soptic said, driving the point home.

Republicans immediately cried foul. And soon, holes began appearing. Soptic’s wife died five years after the plant closed. At the time Soptic was laid off, she had insurance through her job, which, Soptic told CNN, she lost a year or two later. Romney was running the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics when Bain shut down the company where Soptic worked.

As the controversy grew, Bill Burton, one of the founders of Priorities USA Action, appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer to defend the ad. “What this ad does is it tells a story of one guy and the impact that Mitt Romney had,” Burton said. Blitzer replied by calling the ad “misleading.”

Seeking to seize the high ground, the Romney campaign launched an ad of its own on Friday asking: “Doesn’t America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?”

Priorities USA, for hitting a new low in a campaign full of negative ads, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at

Read more from Outlook:

Five myths about campaign advertising

Could a truly honest politician become president?

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