Rush Limbaugh was ahead of the crowd on Tuesday in condemning the Obama super PAC Priorities USA and their ad featuring Joe Soptic saying his wife died of cancer due to Mitt Romney and Romney didn't care. Limbaugh read from a fresh report by Politico's Alex Burns, who quickly determined this was "a cancer fatality that happened near the end of Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts." But there was lots of hedging.
"In the case of this particularly jarring super PAC ad, it may also be relevant that Soptic’s wife died in 2006, years after the GST factory closed down...The lapse in time between the plant closing and Soptic’s death doesn’t mean the ad is invalid, but it raises questions about the cause and effect relationship here... Like most of the outside-group ads in the 2012 race, the fairness of this one is open to interpretation."
Limbaugh read these weasel words in a nasal, nerdy voice. This copy is a bit wimpy for a guy who stumbled and bumbled to "correct" Newt Gingrich about Obama's pro-abortion record and disdains the voters as "Forrest Gump-like" when they turn on Obama.
Bill Burton was in rare form on CNN as Anderson Cooper pressed him on the Soptic ad on Wednesday night -- right after Cooper pressed Newt Gingrich to say Romney's welfare ad was false:
COOPER: How can you imply that Mitt Romney and Bain are somehow to blame for that poor woman dying of cancer?
BILL BURTON: My goodness, we don't and we would not. I mean those fact checks presuppose that that's exactly what we're trying to do. And that's not the point of the ad. The point of the ad is to tell the story of the impact that Mitt Romney had on the lives of thousands of people. When he came to town, they lost their jobs, they lost their health care, they lost their pension benefits. And that impact is felt still today in those communities.
COOPER: But you spent -- I mean, you're a smart guy. You have a lot of smart ad people in the group that you're working with. Half the ad is him talking about his wife's demise. And it ends with him, saying, I do not think that Mitt Romney realizes what he has done to anyone. The implication is clearly that he is responsible or what -- the actions he took led to his wife's death.
BURTON: You know, the story is a very sad one and the truth is that there are thousands of stories that are -- that happened as a result of Mitt Romney and his time at Bain. And some of them are really tragic. But just because they're really sad or tragic doesn't mean that they should be off limits. Well, we think it's important to tell the stories of these folks and how they were impacted by Mitt Romney.
COOPER: How is a woman dying be -- I mean, she had health insurance from her job after this man lost his job and then she got an injury years later and then lost her insurance.
BURTON: Right. To say that presupposes that we're trying to link Mitt Romney with her tragedy.
COOPER: You are.
BURTON: No, no, no, the truth is --
COOPER: You've made a commercial about Mitt Romney and it's all about this woman's tragedy if you're trying to link it, why are you even talking about her?
BURTON: No, but Anderson, if we were making that point, that means that if she hadn't had another job in an intervening time, if somehow it had happened much sooner to when Joe lost his job, that somehow Mitt Romney would be more responsible. And that's now what we're saying. What we're saying is that at a moment of true concern and anxiety in a family, when Joe Soptic really needed health insurance for his family, he didn't have it. And that's the point here. He was promised health care benefits and he lost them.
COOPER: You claim -- you really claim -- you really want people to believe you're not trying to link in any way even just subtly or not subtly that there's some linkage between Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, business decisions he made and this woman's death.
BURTON: Anderson, it would defy logic to do so. The point here is that even to today that community is completely worn down. The whole area, the factory is abandoned. People still don't have jobs in some cases. Many folks still don't have health insurance. People who do have jobs are getting paid much less. And the point is that Mitt Romney's business experience had a profound effect on the lives of thousands of people.