BOSTON—A senior adviser to Mitt Romney lashed out at President Barack Obama's re-election campaign Friday, accusing the president of waging a campaign based on "ugly distortions and lies."
"They have gone from what started out as petty distortions and untruths to unbelievable exaggerations that diminish the office of the president and insult the American people," Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters at a media briefing at the campaign's headquarters. "I don't think a world champion limbo dancer could get any lower than the Obama campaign right now."
Fehrnstrom's comments came after an Obama campaign spokeswoman dialed back the campaign's initial denial that it had no knowledge of Joe Soptic, a man who was featured in a pro-Obama super PAC ad that effectively accused Romney of being responsible for his wife's death from cancer because he lost his health insurance when he was laid off from a steel company owned by Bain Capital.
The Obama campaign initially distanced itself from the ad, run by Priorities USA, but later acknowledged that Soptic had participated in an Obama campaign conference call in May.
The Romney campaign immediately seized on the campaign's reversal, citing the Soptic attack and a suggestion from a top Obama aide in June that Romney may have committed a felony by not accurately reporting when he left Bain as proof that Obama is running a campaign based on "desperate tactics."
"Obama has squandered what has always been one of his key attributes, that he was a different kind of politician who was going to take us to a better place," Fehrnstrom told reporters Friday. "Obama said he was going to change the tone in Washington, and he has done that: He's taken it from bad to worse... When you start running ads accusing your opponent of killing people, then you have lost your credibility."
Speaking to reporters on the eve of a four-day bus tour through four key battleground states—Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio—Fehrnstrom argued the Romney team is keeping its focus on policy, rather than personal attacks.
"We are betting that a substantive campaign conducted on the high ground and focused primarily on jobs and the economy will trump a campaign that is designed to appeal to our worst instincts," he said.