Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to condemn a campaign ad released by the Obama-affiliated Priorities USA, which suggests Mitt Romney was responsible for a woman’s death from cancer.
“This is an ad by an entity that’s not controlled by the campaign,” Gibbs said in a “Morning Joe” interview. “I certainly don’t know the specifics of this man’s case.”
Gibbs joins Obama campaign spokesperson Jennifer Psaki and deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter in declining to condemn the ad.
Psaki refused to comment on the ad Tuesday in a CNN interview, despite being given four opportunities by CNN to distance the campaign from the ad.
“As you know, we have about as much to do with the Priorities ad–the super PAC ad–as we do with Michael Phelps winning gold medals last week,” she said. “I can’t speak to the ad.”
“We don’t have anything to do with Priorities USA; that by law, we’re not allowed to coordinate with them, and by law we don’t have anything to do with their ads,” Cutter said Tuesday in an interview with CNN. “I don’t know the facts of when Joe’s wife got sick or when she died. But as I said before, I do know the facts of what Mitt Romney did with GS Steel”
HALPERIN: Are you familiar with the new ad by the White-House-sanctioned super PAC that has a man suggesting that governor Romney was responsible for his wife’s tragic death?
GIBBS: I have seen some write-ups about it; I have not seen the ad. I didn’t watch TV last night.
SCARBOROUGH: Can we — do we have the ad? Let’s run the ad.
AD: I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to people’s lives by closing the plant. I don’t think he realizes that people’s lives completely changed. When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my healthcare, and my family lost their healthcare. And a short time after that my wife became ill. I don’t know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew that we couldn’t afford the insurance, and then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia and that’s when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days. I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.”
HALPERIN: Robert, we all feel bad for that man and, obviously, it’s a heartfelt testimonial, but do you think that’s an appropriate injection in this campaign of basically making the accusation that Gov. Romney caused that woman’s death?
GIBBS: Look, Mark, I think as you said, this is an ad by an entity that’s not controlled by the campaign. I certainly don’t know the specifics of this man’s case. I do think there are — is a lot of concern in the country about what happens when people lose their jobs. We know that when they lose their jobs—because most of where people get their health care provided for is in their jobs—they tend to also lose their health care. The people become one bad illness or sickness away from losing their house, from losing their life savings, losing their ability to send their children to college and it’s a huge fear and anxiety for families all over the country.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
STEIN: Robert, with love and all due respect —
SCARBOROUGH: He loves you.
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, God. Horrible.
SCARBOROUGH: Talking like a politician, too.
STEIN: That was —
GIBBS: Next time I’m bringing my own group of people to say how much I love you guys.
STEIN: But let’s be honest, that was a long way of avoiding answering the question.
GIBBS: Well, I don’t know the specifics. I’m sorry.