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How Low Can They Go? New Round Of Negative Ads Plague Presidential Campaigns

Obama, Romney Camps Going For Blood Despite Publicly Denoucing Spots
President Barack Obama (file/credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages)

President Barack Obama (file/credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New levels of negative campaign ads have both candidates for president condemning them. The problem is each candidate is only upset by the other guy’s ads.

It’s an ad that suggests that a Missouri steel worker’s wife died of cancer because he lost his health insurance after Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital, shuttered his plant.

“There was nothing they could do for her. She passed away in 22 days. I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone,” Joe Soptic says during the ad.

The pro-Barack Obama Super PAC ad failed to mention that steelworker Soptic’s wife died five years after he lost his job and had her own insurance for part of the time, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

Team Obama first tried to distance itself from the ad, saying it was done by a Super PAC, but then it turned out that they had used Soptic on their own web site.

And Romney is trying employing the same go-negative ad attacks to win over Catholic voters.

“President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against the faith,” the Romney ad says.

The ad never references birth control, but is a veiled reference to the contraception requirement of Obamacare.

Negative ads have been a hallmark of campaigns for decades. Take this one for example: “[Michael] Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty he allowed first-degree murders to have weekend passes from prison,” a Wille Horton ad says.

So why do candidates do this? Because polls show they work.

However, conservative strategist Frank Luntz, who has conducted focus groups on the effectiveness of political ads, said campaign 2012 has been different.

“It’s one thing to be negative, it’s another to demonize your opponent,” Luntz said.

Luntz said the strategy is this: “Some of these ads are designed to get the base engaged and involved, because, in the end, the undecided vote is so small that the goal is turnout.”

And while President Obama and Romney have both denounced the negative ads don’t expect them to stop. Each camp maintains they have to respond “forcefully” to what the other team is doing.

Do you find negative ads to be a turnoff? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …