That dust-up was similar to another from last month, when Obama supporter Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney "had never worked a day in her life." Obama's campaign swiftly repudiated the comment and sought to distance itself from it even though Rosen has no role in the campaign. Obama's team feared the absence of a strong repudiation of Rosen's remarks would both turn off women voters and signal that attacks on wives were acceptable.
Romney's campaign had its own problems with a celebrity surrogate when Ted Nugent, a rock music star, made provocative comments about Obama.
Nugent met with Secret Service representatives after a speech to the National Rifle Association in which he referred to Obama's "evil, America-hating administration" and urged voters to "chop their heads off in November." Nugent added, "If Obama is elected, I will either be dead or in jail."
Romney's campaign, which sought and publicized Nugent's endorsement, distanced itself from his comments. "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil."
That wasn't enough for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who called on Romney to "condemn Nugent's violent and hateful rhetoric immediately."
Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited sums and are legally prohibited from coordinating with the candidates they support, have emerged as surrogates of a sort and have further complicated efforts by campaigns to stay on message.
Romney was forced to answer for — and repudiate — an ad campaign under consideration by a conservative-leaning super PAC showcasing Obama's relationship with his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade Securites, had been weighing a $10 million contribution to the effort but said after it became public that he did not want to participate in such an effort.
Neither did Romney, who said: "It's the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign."
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