A new online ad by a pro-Obama group has got the Romney campaign riled and the president’s forces rushing to deny responsibility for it. Senior Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom called lower “than a champion limbo dancer” the ad (from pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA), in which the death of a steel worker’s wife in Pennsylvania is provocatively linked to the takeover of the steel company by Bain Capital–the investment firm co-founded by Romney and oft-maligned as a practitioner of vampire capitalism. “When you start running ads accusing your opponent of killing people,” he said, “then you have lost your credibility,” said Fehrnstrom.
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, sought to distance itself from the controversial ad, pointing out that it has no control over what an independent organization like Priorities USA decides to put in its ads (and noting wryly on the side that pro-Romney Super PACs continue to run ads insisting that the president was not born in the United States). The controversy (and Super PACs themselves) points to a new headache for campaign strategists who live by the “stay on message” mantra: forget about your enemies for a second, how do you control your friends?