(CNN) – Bill Burton, the co-founder of the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, said Wednesday he "absolutely" stood by an ad tying Mitt Romney to the loss of insurance and eventual death of a laid off steel worker's wife.
"The point of this ad is to tell the story of one guy, Joe Soptic, and the impact on his life that happened for years, and to this day, as a result of decisions that Mitt Romney made," Burton said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "This is one of a series of ads in which we talk about the very long lasting impacts that Mitt Romney's decision had on these communities, on these individuals and their families."
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Priorities' ad, released Tuesday but yet to actually air in a paid commercial time slot, ties Mitt Romney to the death of a former GST Steel worker's wife after the employee lost his job when the plant closed down. Romney's former private equity firm, Bain Capital, acquired GST Steel in 1993, but the company went bankrupt in 2001, two years after Romney ceased day-to-day oversight of Bain.
The ad features Joe Soptic, a former worker at the Kansas City-based steel plant, as he tells the story of how he lost health insurance benefits when the plant shuttered and reveals that his wife passed away of cancer soon after that.
A closer look by CNN poked holes into the ad's timeline. Soptic says in the spot his wife became ill "a short time" after the plant closed down in 2001, but Ilyona Rae Soptic passed away in June 2006.
Asked in Wednesday's interview if Romney was responsible for Soptic's wife death, Burton said "absolutely not."
But Burton disagreed that viewers were left with an impression that Romney was culpable.
Blitzer, pressing Burton, said, "Anybody who watches that 60 second ad comes away and says Mitt Romney is responsible, at least indirectly, for this lovely woman's death."
"I just don't think that's true," Burton said.
He added, "It's clearly lost on some folks, make no mistake about that, but the truth is what this ad is about is what Mitt Romney wants his campaign to be about."
Asked about the ad on Tuesday and Wednesday, Obama campaign officials refused to comment, saying the legal separation between campaigns and super PACs meant they had no part in the spot's production. Burton, who co-founded Priorities USA in 2010, previously served as deputy White House press secretary, and was a campaign spokesman for Obama in 2008.
"You do know that we don't have anything to do with Priorities USA," Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter said on CNN's "Starting Point." "That's by law, we're not allowed to coordinate with them, and by law we don't have anything to do with their ads."
Cutter continued, saying she didn't "know the facts of when Joe's wife got sick or when she died."
Jen Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, echoed those remarks aboard Air Force One Wednesday, telling reporters on the way to an Obama campaign speech "we don't have any knowledge of the story of the family."
Those remarks were immediately bashed by Republicans, who pointed out that Soptic told the story of his wife's illness on an Obama campaign conference call in May.
"With unemployment at a five-month high and stagnant economic growth, President Obama and his campaign are willing to say and do anything to hide the President's disappointing record," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said. "But they're not entitled to repeatedly mislead voters. Americans deserve better – they deserve a president who's willing to run an honest campaign and be honest about his own record."
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