Obama camp pushes back against Romney’s welfare offensive

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s aides are still trying to contain the political damage caused by the administration’s June 12 memo offering states an apparent rollback of welfare-to-work requirements.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has launched two TV ads that highlight the June memo, and they’re playing in swing states, including Virginia.

The latest,“Long History,” was released Aug. 13. It shows Obama opposing the popular and successful 1996 welfare reform law, which set new rules requiring welfare recipients to work.

“Last month, President Obama ended work requirements for welfare. Mitt Romney believes work must be part of welfare and will put work back in welfare,” said a press release from the campaign.

On Aug. 14, Obama’s people again pushed back, claiming that Romney’s welfare ads were misleading, and also hypocritical.

“Mitt Romney says he wants to run a clean campaign, but yesterday his campaign released yet another false attack ad. Independent news organizations, President Clinton, and a Republican author of welfare reform have already called these claims blatantly dishonest,” said the campaign’s statement.

Campaign strategist David Axelrod also complained about Romney’s tactics. “Mitt runs millions behind blatantly false ads, accusing POTUS of ending welfare to work rules, and then cries foul about tone? #chutzpah,” he tweeted Aug. 14.

The Obama’s campaign’s aggressive response suggests that Romney’s welfare ads may have been effective in moving swing-voters.

The June 12 memo invited states to submit proposals for so-called “demonstration projects” that could include rollbacks of welfare-to-work rules. The memo, for example, cited a request from Nevada to temporarily exclude some long-term unemployed people from the welfare-to-work requirement.

Once the controversy blew up, administration denied any plans to rollback welfare-to-work rules, and claimed they would only allow demonstration projects that increase welfare-to-work requirements by 20 percent.

That 20 percent claim is not in the June 12 memo.


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