A controversial TV ad tying Mitt Romney to a woman’s cancer death aired today for the first time in Ohio, apparently in error, according to the pro-Obama super PAC that produced it.
“Station error is all,” explained Priorities USA Action senior strategist Bill Burton. ”Kind of like when the Florida station accidentally aired Restore Our Future’s anti-Gingrich ad in June.”
The ethics and accuracy of the claims in the 30-second spot — titled “Understands” — have been the subject of intense debate since it first appeared online one week ago.
Republicans and some Democrats say the group crossed a line in suggesting Romney’s role at Bain Capital contributed to a woman’s death, especially after fact-checkers debunked the suggestion that the woman died immediately after her husband’s layoff from a Bain-owned factory or entirely lacked health insurance because of the move.
The Obama campaign has refused to disavow the ad, claiming no affiliation with the super PAC, even though administration officials have fundraised for it and former White House staffers run its operations.
Burton has argued that criticism of the ad is overblown and that it fairly reflects the long-term consequences of bankruptcies and corporate buyouts by Romney’s Bain Capital.
With the outcry and debate, there has been much speculation about whether the ad would air at all. Priorities USA officials have been coy about the delay in the ad’s hitting the airwaves, insisting only that it has been “shipped to television stations” and would air on demand.
The free attention garnered by the controversy alone seemed to be a desired effect of Priorities. The spot has had over 700,000 views online, and as of Friday, four of the top five states in which it’s been viewed online include Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Priorities official said.
BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller first reported tonight that the ad officially aired in Cleveland this morning, citing an “ad buy tracking source.”