Bill Clinton is pushing back against the Romney campaign for using him in an ad attacking President Obama, calling the Romney campaign’s welfare reform claims “not true.”
The Romney campaign on Tuesday released an ad claiming that the Obama administration had weakened work requirements for welfare recipients, citing Clinton’s work with Congressional Republicans in the 1990s. Later that day, however, Clinton rebutted Romney’s assertions and defended the administration’s waiver policy for states.
“The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment,” Clinton said in a statement. “The Administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained and that waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach. The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived.”
Clinton also hit Romney on his support of the waivers as governor of Massachusetts, criticizing the volatile nature of campaign ads.
“The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether,” the statement said. “We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.”
The Romney campaign, however, is not backing down from its attacks.
“President Obama was a vocal opponent of the innovative, bipartisan welfare reforms that President Clinton and a Republican Congress passed in 1996," campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. "His administration has now undermined the central premise of those reforms by gutting the welfare-to-work requirement. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has a record of fighting to strengthen work requirements. As president, he will ensure that nearly sixteen years of progress aren't erased with one stroke of a pen.”
On Wednesday, the campaign also released an online video, “The Rise and Fall of Welfare Reform,” using old speeches by Democrats like Clinton and Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., promoting welfare reform. At the end of the video, the text says that Obama is “taking the work out of welfare.”
Calling the attacks, “dubious,” the Obama campaign released its own Web video, saying Romney is “flexible on welfare and the truth.”
“By falsely attacking a policy that both he and his Republican allies have supported for years, Romney is demonstrating that he lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a President,” the campaign said in a statement.
On the day the Romney ad came out, PolitiFact gave the ad a "Pants on Fire" rating, calling it a "drastic distortion." They write: "The ad's claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance."