UPDATE (6:15 p.m. ET): CNN’s Brianna Keilar is reporting that steelworker Joe Soptic’s wife was insured through her employer, Savers Thrift Store. She was laid off from her job in 2002 or 2003, Soptic told CNN, at which point she lost her health insurance. So it would appear that Joe Soptic’s firing had nothing to do with his wife’s health insurance.
Priorities USA strategist Bill Burton told Keilar that the super PAC was not attempting to draw the connection between Romney and Soptic’s wife’s death. But as Keilar pointed out, that’s the conclusion that many are drawing.
The Romney campaign has compiled the video of Keilar’s reporting on “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer:
ORIGINAL POST: The venomous pro-Barack Obama super PAC ad released this morning lost a bit of weight by Tuesday afternoon.
The controversial ad features former GST steelworker Joe Soptic, who was laid off from the plant and lost health benefits in 2002, and asserts that Mitt Romney is partly to blame for the death of his wife. Soptic later found part-time work, but his wife developed a stage-four cancer (not specified further) and “there was nothing they could do.”
A 2006 story in the Kansas City Star reported the death of Ranae Soptic, a former champion roller skater: “Soptic went to the hospital for pneumonia, but doctors found signs of very advanced cancer, and she died two weeks later on June 22.”
As Burns points, the new information doesn’t discredit the ad, because it’s not known when Soptic’s wife developed the cancer or if her chances for survival would have improved if it had been diagnosed earlier. Soptic explained in the ad that he thought his wife might not have said anything about feeling sick because she was concerned about the affordability of the care without insurance.
But he also says that his wife fell ill “short time” after Romney and Bain closed the GST Steel plant, without mentioning the time lapse.
Here’s the relevant part of the script:
When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my healthcare, and my family lost their healthcare. And a short time after that my wife became ill.
I don’t know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew that we couldn’t afford the insurance, and then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia and that’s when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her.
And she passed away in 22 days.
I do not think Mitt Romney realises what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.
Soptic didn’t mention the time lapse in an interview with Reuters in January. He explained that he could only find part-time work as a custodian, and his $24,000 salary couldn’t cover the medical bills. He had also lost about $283 per month in his pension as a result of the plant closing.
When Ranae started losing weight, “I tried to get her to the doctor and she wouldn’t go,” Soptic said. She ended up in the county hospital with pneumonia, where doctors discovered her advanced lung cancer. She died two weeks later.
Soptic was left with nearly $30,000 in medical bills. He drained a $12,000 savings account and the hospital wrote off the balance.
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