At a White House briefing this morning, President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, was asked to respond to Mitt Romney’s charge the president is running an “angry and desperate” re-election campaign. Team Romney’s complaints about the negative nature of the Obama campaign have focused on an ad run by a pro-Obama super PAC that attempted to tie Mr. Romney’s work at Bain Capital to a woman’s death from cancer, a suggestion by a top Obama campaign staffer that Mr. Romney may have committed a felony by claiming he left Bain earlier than he did and a recent remark from Vice President Joe Biden that Mr. Romney’s economic policies would enable banks to put people “back in chains.”
Mr. Carney told the reporters in attendance the complaints about the super PAC ad were an “obvious attempt to distract attention by focusing so much of your attention on an ad that never ran as I understood it.” When the reporter who asked about the Romney campaign’s complaints corrected Mr. Carney and informed him the commercial did indeed appear on television, he said it only ran “inadvertently, according to a press report and a stationery record.”
The press report Mr. Carney was referring to was an interview Bill Burton, the head of Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC that created the controversial cancer commercial, gave to ABC News in which he seemingly sarcastically claimed the ad aired on an Ohio station as the result of an “error” by referencing a pro-Romney super PAC ad that attacked Newt Gingrich during the Republican primaries.
“Station error is all,” Mr. Burton said. “Kind of like when the Florida station accidentally aired Restore Our Future’s anti-Gingrich ad in June.”
Previously, Obama campaign staffers have claimed they had no knowledge of the story that appeared in the ad even though the commercial’s star, a former steelworker named Joe Soptic who claims his layoff from a Bain-owned company left his ailing wife without health insurance, had appeared in official Obama campaign commercials and conference calls.
In his briefing, Mr. Carney chastised the press for focusing on the ad featuring Mr. Soptic when Mr. Romney has run attacks on President Obama’s welfare policies that the press secretary described as being “built entirely on a fiction about the President’s…policy on the work requirement necessary in welfare reform.”
“You know it, everybody in this room knows it, every outside expert on this issue has declared that the advertising campaign on welfare reform is false. Just false. Factually false,” Mr. Carney said. “And yet, there is all this attention on an outside ad, again, has barely run.”
He also accused the Romney campaign of other “ridiculous” attacks including casting doubt on the president’s citizenship.
“There are plenty of third party ads out there that, that are in support of Governor Romney that, allege certain things that are ridiculous, including suggesting that the president is not an American citizen,” he said.
Mr. Carney went on to defend Mr. Biden’s “chains” comment and to defend the President’s recent references to Mr. Romney’s dog debacle as a “joke.”
Watch a video of Mr. Carney’s comments below: