(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fended off questions Friday about a political ad from a pro-Obama group that tried to link Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to a woman’s death from cancer.
While Carney repeatedly stressed to reporters that this was an outside group not the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, the press briefing was dominated by questions not only about the decorum of the ad but the close ties Priorities USA SuperPac has with the Obama campaign.
After several reporters asked about the matter, Chuck Todd of NBC News pointed out that White House senior advisor David Plouffe has helped raise money for Priorities USA.
“David Plouffe works in the West Wing. This is a group that the campaign has asked members of the cabinet to help raise money for,” Todd said. “This isn’t just some third party group. So you do have standing. How do you not have standing as a matter to speak out about this?”
Carney responded, “As a matter of the law, we have no control over what third party groups do.”
Priorities USA is run by former White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton.
Carney went on to say, “This is entirely a campaign issue. I think the campaign has answered these questions.”
Todd responded, “You are a little arbitrary about when you do speak about campaign stuff and when you don’t. You pick and choose.”
Carney earlier referred to a Romney campaign ad criticizing the administration for relaxing work requirements in the welfare reform law. Carney called the ad false, and said discussing that was different because it dealt with a White House policy.
“Listen, I have gone after the campaign ad, again, millions of dollars spent by the other campaign in states across the country blatantly misrepresenting the president’s policy,” Carney said. “It’s about the policy. I know what the policy is, and I take issue as someone who speaks and explains and defends the president’s policies with that representation of it.”
In the ad in question that debuted this week – paid for by Priorities USA – Joe Soptic, a steelworker who lost his job after a Bain Capital deal, said that Romney is responsible for his wife’s death from cancer, because he also lost his insurance.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, “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. As you know, campaign finance rules in that regard are in place for a reason.”
In May, Soptic was in an Obama campaign ad – a two-minute video – that ended with the president approving this message.
In a statement issued Thursday, Romney campaign spokesman Matt Rhoades posted a blog on the campaign website that said the Obama campaign has hit a “new low.”
“We're not going to whine about this ad, because politics is a rough sport. But I wanted you to know about this discredited, dishonest, despicable attack by President Obama's allies designed to divert attention from his failed economic record,” Rhoades wrote. “What happened to the campaign of hope and change? After months of lies, distortions, and distractions, the Obama and liberal reelection machine needs to be held accountable for their words and actions.”