Ad Uses Hurricane Sandy to Bash Mitt Romney Over Climate Change

The group behind a new viral Romney attack ad says it's not meant as an Obama endorsement.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns Thursday at Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach, Va.

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's destruction, a haunting political ad hammering Mitt Romney's climate change stances went viral on the Internet over the weekend—but its creators say the ad isn't meant as an endorsement of President Obama.

[Climate Experts: East Coast Not Ready for Hurricane Sandy Follow Up]

The ad starts with an excerpt from Romney's Republican National Convention speech, in which he mocked Obama's promises to "slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet," which is met with laughs from the crowd. The ad then shows images and video of Sandy's destruction in New York and New Jersey with the kicker message: "Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change isn't a joke."

Besides being viewed more than 600,000 times online, the ad is now showing in certain critical counties in Ohio and Virginia. But the group behind the ad, Forecast the Facts, says both candidates have failed miserably on climate change policy.

[READ: Hurricane Sandy May Force Pols to Discuss Climate Change]

"We've always found the attitude that Mitt Romney had about climate change to be morally offensive because of the catastrophic risks associated with it. Unfortunately, those risks were realized with Sandy." says Brad Johnson, campaign manager for the group, which was started to put pressure on meteorologists who deny climate change and has since moved on to politicians and other leaders. Johnson was formerly an editor who wrote extensively about climate change for Think Progress.

"We're not saying [Obama is better]," he adds. "Just because we're calling out the outrageousness of Mitt Romney's deliberate cruelty doesn't mean we find Obama's silence to be anything other than a dereliction of duty."

So far, more than 500 people have donated more than $15,000 to air "Romney vs. Sandy" in Virginia and Ohio, Johnson says. Johnson notes that this year's election campaign was the first since 1984 in which climate change was completely ignored during presidential debates.

"It's clear from the positive response we've seen that this is something the American people care about despite the silence of their leaders," he adds.

Even though the ad appears to encourage people to vote for Obama, Johnson says the ad is meant to wake people up who have ignored climate change.

[READ: A Tale of Two Storms: Comparing Bush and Obama's Hurricane Response]

"This isn't about Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, though they have unique responsibilities because they're campaigning to be president," Johnson says. "All of us have been failing in our responsibility to take this seriously."

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.