I tend to regard many of these advertisements with little more than a passing glance, for you can’t learn much about someone who wants to be the leader of the free world in a 60-second commercial bought and paid for by someone who is intent on getting the other guy elected. Americans roundly criticize negative political advertisements every election cycle, but the worst kept secret is that campaigns run negative ads for one reason—they work. The right attack ad dropped at the right time can spell disaster the opposition in a close race, and when winning at all costs is the only game in town, it’s no wonder ad spending is in the hundreds of millions.
The Priorities USA Action PAC recently released what is, without a doubt, the worst political attack ad of the season, if not in history. The pro-Obama TV spot, starring a man named Joe Soptic, says his wife contracted cancer and died “a short time after” Mitt Romney closed GS Industries, the steel plant where he worked and left “my family” without health coverage. Soptic goes on to say, “I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned” about what “he’s done.”
As Soptic narrates this ad, the words “Mitt Romney and Bain Capital made millions for themselves and then closed this steel plant” are emblazoned across the screen.
Sounds pretty serious! Big mean Mitt rode into town like Mister Burns, shut down the steel plant personally, fired this guy himself, and then killed his wife just for funsies.
Bill Burton, an Obama crony and the head of Priorities USA Action, denies that the ad blames Romney for the woman’s death from cancer, but this is flat out stupid. The ad is quite clear in its message. It begins with the plant closing at the hands of Mitt Romney and ends with a woman’s death. Sounds pretty clear to me and to the various fact-checking sites that have widely panned it.
I feel it important to clear up a few things about the claims made in this commercial. Firstly, the ad misleads when Soptic says that after he was laid off “my family lost their health care” and “a short time after that my wife became ill.” Soptic’s wife, Ranae Soptic, died in 2006, five years after the steel plant where Soptic was formerly employed, closed down. Well, did Mrs. Soptic indeed lose her healthcare as a result? Not exactly. Ranae Soptic had her own insurance plan through her own job at a thrift store, which she kept for two years after her husband lost his job at the steel plant. Mrs. Soptic lost her insurance when a shoulder injury forced her to leave her job, not when her husband lost his. As for the claim that Romney had something directly to do with this tragedy, that too is a fantasy. GS Industries closed in 2001, during the time Romney was working on the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and not for Bain Capital.
Although Bain Capital had a hand in the plant’s closing, it is debatable whether Bain’s involvement for eight years directly lead to the company’s eventual demise. One might possibly be able to make the case that if Romney and Bain hadn’t saddled the company with so much debt, they may have survived, but it’s also possible to make the case that if Bain hadn’t stepped in when they did, the company might have closed even sooner and that Soptic would have lost his job well before 2001.
Yet another fact being glossed over by Priorities USA Action is the state of the American steel industry itself and the role it may have played in GS Industries’ fate. A 1999 Securities and Exchange Commission filing by GS Industries 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.”
Wait a minute. A poor economy and cheap foreign steel may have had a hand in GS Industries’ failure? Say it ain’t so! I thought Mitt Romney did this on purpose.
The claim that Ranae Soptic’s death is Romney’s, oops, I meant Bain Capital’s, fault is ridiculous and a prime example of everything that’s wrong with politics in America today. We must endeavor to rise above this nonsense. If there is truly something amiss in the corporate practices of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital then by all means bring them to light, but stop with the blatant dishonesty. It’s classless, it’s obnoxious, and it’s dangerous.
I am sorry for Mr. Soptic’s loss, but he is disgracing the memory of his wife by lying. Americans deserve better than this sort of hateful garbage and they deserve better than Bill Burton and Priorities USA Action.
Sean Cary is a local business owner, freelance writer, host of Nevada Matters heard on Fox News Radio (www.nevadamatters.us) and pundit on the television show “Nevada Newsmakers.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at www.seancary.com.