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Fatal Mistake? Obama Campaign Backtracks: Admits Knowing Story Behind Criticized Anti-Romney ‘Cancer’ Ad

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One day after claiming the Obama campaign had no knowledge of the story of the man included in a pro-Obama super PAC ad, spokeswoman Jen Psaki was forced to admit the campaign had worked with him before.

“No one is denying that he was in one of our campaign ads,” Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One, referring to Joe Soptic, who was shown in a Priorities USA Action ad essentially blaming Mitt Romney for his wife’s death.

“What’s clear here, again, is that we’re focusing so much on an ad that has not run yet, that was done by an outside group,” Psaki stressed.

In the ad, which Priorities USA Action still plans to air later this week, Soptic, a former GST Steel worker, explains how he lost his job and health benefits when Romney’s Bain Capital closed his plant. Soptic’s wife later became ill and died shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. "I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned," Soptic says in the ad.

What the ad doesn't say, because it completely undercuts its story, is that Romney had left Bain by the point at which Soptic was laid off, and also, Soptic's wife had her own health insurance through her own job.

Psaki deflected the criticism for the Soptic commercial -- which Democratic strategist and former President Clinton top aide Lanny Davis today called "disgusting" -- by bringing up a different ad, Romney’s campaign spot attacking the president's welfare reforms.

The Romney ad touts Preisdeint Obama got rid of many of the Clinton-era welfare changes, like a mandate welfare recipients must be working or actively trying to find work to get their benefits. Psaki claimed that a "bold-face lie."

“We know that there’s a debate that’s going on out there between ads on the airwaves,” she said. “But there’s been a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison here, when we’re comparing an ad that has not even run, by an outside group we have nothing to do with, with an ad that is the basis of Mitt Romney’s campaign right now, that is a bold-face lie about the president’s record on welfare.  And I think that’s frustrating to us because they’re being compared at the same level.”

Going a step further, Psaki said that no one was asking the Romney campaign to explain ads being run by the Republican super PAC.

“I saw an ad yesterday that is being run by a Republican outside group that questions whether the president was born in the United States and shows a picture of his birth certificate with a question mark on it.  No one is asking the Romney campaign about that ad and what they think about that ad. So as we talk about apples and oranges, that’s the apples-to-apples comparison I’ll leave you with,” she said.

In response, the Romney campaign said the president’s campaign had been caught lying.

“The Obama campaign acknowledged today that it ran a television ad and hosted a conference call that promoted the same despicable attack that was used in a discredited ad run by President Obama’s Super PAC,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said. “The Obama campaign has now admitted that it lied to the media and the American people in a disgraceful attempt to conceal their connection to this shameful smear. Americans deserve better -- they deserve a president who’s willing to run an honest campaign and be honest about his own record.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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