Pity the swing state voter. With just 91 days left before Election Day, both President Obama and Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are upping the ante in the campaign ad wars. Their goal is to paint the most negative picture of the competition, but their target is the independent voters in battleground states where the election's outcome will be decided.
This week, Priorities USA, the Democratic-leaning super PAC that is backing Obama, released an emotionally charged ad, the fifth in a series, targeting Romney's business experience at Bain Capital. "Understands" features former GST Steel employee Joe Soptic who recalls losing both his job and health care benefits after Bain purchased and ultimately shut down the plant. It also suggests that Soptic's wife may have died as a result.
"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," Soptic says. "When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that my wife became ill."
He adds that his wife may have kept silent about her illness because the couple couldn't afford insurance. After being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, she was diagnosed with stage four cancer and died 22 days later.
"I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone," Soptic says. "And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."
Team Romney, seeking to reframe its message to appeal to the middle class, released a new ad that accuses Obama of "ending welfare as we know it" by turning back the policies implemented by his now-most powerful surrogate, former President Bill Clinton.
"On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements," a narrator says. "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."
The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration made a decision to waive the work requirement in response to states' requests for more flexibility to make the program more efficient. In addition, AP notes, Romney, as Massachusetts governor, was one of several governors who in 2005 signed a letter asking for waiver authority.
While each ad tells a different story, their message is remarkably similar. Romney's ad suggests that the president wants to take from the middle class to give to the poor, while the Priorities USA ad promotes the Obama campaign's theme that Romney's policies would take from both the poor and the middle class to give to the rich.
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(Photos from left: Courtesy of MittRomney.com, Courtesy of BarackObama.com)