By JULIE PACE KASIE HUNT
---- — NEW YORK (AP) — Mitt Romney yesterday accused President Barack Obama and his allies of launching personal attacks and perpetuating lies about him in TV ads. The Republican also rolled out a new commercial of his own that questioned Obama’s values and accused the president of waging war on religious freedom.
Obama’s campaign disputed that charge.
“I am seeing some of the ads out there. I don’t know whatever happened to a campaign of hope and change,” Romney said, alluding to Obama’s previous campaign slogan, during an interview on Bill Bennett’s radio program, “Morning in America.” ‘‘I thought he was a new kind of politician. But instead, his campaign and the people working with him have focused almost exclusively on personal attacks. ... It’s really disappointing.”
In the interview, Romney argued that Obama “keeps on just running” ads that various fact-checking organizations have called inaccurate. “They just blast ahead,” he said, instead of pulling the ads off the air. But the candidate ignored the fact that he has kept his own ads assailing Obama on the air after these groups have found their claims to be false.
Romney talked generally about ads in the interview but didn’t directly refer to a commercial by a Democratic outside group that has dominated the campaign in the last two days.
His campaign has called “despicable” an ad by Priorities USA Action that features a man whose wife died of cancer after he lost his health insurance when he was laid off from a company that was bought by the private equity firm Romney once ran. “I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned,” the man, Joe Soptic, says in the ad.
Obama’s campaign has refused to ask the group to pull the spot. Speaking at a rally in Pueblo, Colo., Obama bemoaned the influence of super PACs supporting Romney. He told voters they would see “more negative ads, more money spent than you have ever seen in your life.” He made no mention of similar groups supporting his campaign.
Bill Burton, a former White House aide and a co-founder of Priorities USA Action, said the ad does not suggest that Romney was responsible for Soptic’s wife’s death.
“We’re not saying Mitt Romney is culpable,” Burton told CNN.
The back and forth over the commercial underscored the degree to which the White House campaign has become intensely negative and personal as polls show the race close three months before the Nov. 6 election. Negative commercials from both the candidates and their backers are flooding the roughly nine states that are the most competitive in the hunt to win the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.
As controversy raged over the outside group’s commercial, Romney’s team rolled out one of its own yesterday that asks: “Who shares your values?”