(Newsroom America) -- The Obama campaign on Wednesday denied any prior knowledge of the details of a vicious campaign ad produced by an independent Super PAC that essentially blamed Republican challenger Mitt Romney for the cancer death of a laid-off steelworker's wife, even though the widower told the same story to the campaign in May, reports said.
"We have nothing, no involvement, with any ads that are done by Priorities USA. We don't have any knowledge of the story of the family," Obama spokesman Jen Psaki told pool reporters aboard Air Force One.
The ad features stirring comments from Joe Soptic, who was laid off from his job and lost his health benefits after Bain Capital, the investment firm Romney used to run, closed the Kansas City, Mo., steel plant where he worked, in 2001.
Soptic later told CNN in an interview that his wife still had insurance through her own employer from that point until 2002 or 2003, when she left her job due to an injury - a detail that appears to undermine the ad's otherwise heartbreaking testimony.
"I don't know the facts about when Mr. Soptic's wife got sick, or the facts about his health insurance," Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told CNN Wednesday evening.
However, according to Politico, Soptic told the same story May 14 during a conference call hosted by the Obama campaign.
"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. I was lucky to find another job as a custodian in a local school district. They gave me some health insurance, but I couldn't afford to buy it for my wife," Soptic said, according to a partial transcript of the call published by Yahoo! News.
"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," Soptic said, according to reports. "That put a lot of stress on me: I thought I'd be paying it off until I died myself. That probably wouldn't have happened if Bain kept its promise and I was allowed to keep our health insurance."
He added: "It's upsetting what Mitt Romney and his partners did to us."
For his part, Romney left Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Also, the company has since said it put $100 million into the steel mill, known as GS Technologies, but that competition from overseas combined with cheaper labor forced it into bankruptcy in 2001.
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams immediately rebuked the ad, saying Obama and his campaign "are willing to say and do anything to hide the president's disappointing record."
Romney himself, appearing on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio program Thursday morning, blasted Obama for his campaign's refusal to pull the ad.
"I don't know what happened to a campaign of hope and change. I thought he was a new kind of politician," Romney said.
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