ABC, NBC Press Axelrod on Anti-Romney Cancer Ad as CBS Skips

As she substitute-hosted CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, Nancy Cordes managed to avoid bringing up the controversial Obama super PAC ad that blames Mitt Romney for the death of a man's wife, even though Obama advisor Stephanie Cutter was a guest in the first segment.

By contrast, George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week and and David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press both raised the issue as Obama advisor David Axelrod appeared as a guest on both shows. Cordes stayed non-specific:



On This Week, Stephanopoulos posed:

One other issue this week before you go, this ad controversy this week, a super PAC allied with President Obama, Priorities USA, put out an ad that seemed to suggest that Mitt Romney was responsible for a death. It featured an employee laid off by a company owned by Bain whose wife later died of cancer several years later. It's been roundly criticized. Your own hometown paper called it a "vicious and shameful ad," and it drew this response from the Romney campaign

After showing a clip of a Romney ad criticizing the Obama super PAC ad, the ABC host continued:

Roundly criticized as out of line. Does the President stand behind that ad? Does he agree with what was in that ad?

When Axelrod tried to defend that ad, Stephanopoulos twiced followed up:

DAVID AXELROD: I don't think anybody believes that Mr. Soptic's wife, that Governor Romney could be blamed for the death of Mr. Soptic's wife, and, frankly, I don't think the ad says that, either.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It suggests it, though, doesn't it, David?

[AXELROD CRITICIZES ROMNEY AD ATTACKING OBAMA ON WELFARE REFORM]

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I'll ask Tim Pawlenty about that, but does the President believe that this kind of ad is appropriate?

(Video can be found here.)

On Meet the Press, Gregory raised the issue:

Those of us who cover these campaigns understand that, even though there's a big choice here, it's not as if some of the, you know, personal destruction back and forth is gonna go away. And we've seen a lot of that this week, and Governor Romney has taken particular aim at an ad that's being run by the President's own super PAC, run by a former press aide to the campaign and in the White House, and this was a campaign about Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain, even though the story that's highlighted in the super PAC ad happened after Mitt Romney left. Let me play you a portion of this and also show you how Mitt Romney's responding to it.

After playing a clip of the anti-Romney ad, followed by a soundbite of Mitt Romney criticizing it, Gregory continued:

Disrespecting the office of the presidency is the charge from Mitt Romney, about ads like that with the implication that somehow Bain and Mitt Romney was responsible for that woman's death. How do you respond to that?

After Axelrod tried to defend the ad, Gregory followed up:

You don't think that ad was a low blow? It doesn't cross a line?

(Video can be found here.)

Notably, while ABC had previously brought up the controversial anti-Romney ad earlier last week, NBC first mentioned the ad -- though only briefly -- on Friday's NBC Nightly News within a report filed by Chuck Todd.