Politics

Obama’s campaign featured Joe Soptic in May, now insists they never heard of him

Obama’s campaign featured Joe Soptic in May,  now insists they never heard of him

White House aides say they don’t know anything about Joe Soptic, the former Missouri steelworker who appeared in a campaign ad this week suggesting Mitt Romney is to blame for his wife’s death.

But Politico is now reporting that the Obama campaign should check its own archives.

“Soptic, laid off from Bain Capital-owned GST Steel, stars in a Priorities USA Action spot this week in which he tells of how his wife died without health insurance after he lost his job. Soptic also appeared, wearing what appears to be an identical shirt, in a May television ad for the Obama campaign,” Politico says.

Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Yahoo! News, “We don’t have any knowledge of the story of the family.” And Stephanie Cutter told CNN, “I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance.”

However, it was Cutter who hosted the Obama campaign conference call in May that first allowed Soptic to tell reporters the exact same story now featured in the Priorities spot bashing Romney, Politico reports.

Both the campaign and the Priorities USA Action said there was no coordination about Soptic’s appearances. Priorities USA Action senior strategist Bill Burton said the super PAC found shot its Soptic footage at a union hall in early February, Politico said.

“We didn’t know that he was doing an [Obama campaign] ad,” Burton told the publication

The separation between campaigns and super PACs is a “fuzzy line,” said Kenneth Gross, a former associate general counsel for the Federal Election Commission

Politico has also posted the transcript from the May 14 Obama campaign call in which Soptic detailed his wife’s illness and death:

“After we lost our jobs we found out that we were going to lose our health insurance and that our pensions hadn’t been funded like Bain promised they would be,” Soptic said then. “I was lucky enough to find another job as a custodian in a local school district. That gave me some health insurance but I couldn’t afford to buy it for my wife. A little while later she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had to put her in a county hospital because she didn’t have health care. And when the cancer took her away, all I got was an enormous bill. That put a lot of stress on me. I thought I would be paying it off until I died myself.”

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