Bill Clinton calls Romney welfare ad 'disappointing' and 'misleading'

Former President Clinton issued a statement late Tuesday night denouncing a new ad from the Romney campaign that accuses President Obama of "gutting" the bipartisan welfare reforms enacted during his administration.

"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," Clinton said in the statement.

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Romney repeatedly cited the former president throughout the day to argue that President Obama had undermined the welfare reform program by allowing states to apply for waivers “to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”

The agency included a list of sample projects states might pursue, including those “that demonstrate attainment of superior employment outcomes if a state is held accountable for negotiated employment outcomes in lieu of participation rate requirements.”

Romney seized on that provision to argue that the Obama administration is stripping out the work requirement.

“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” says the narrator in Romney’s new television ad, which launched Tuesday. “They just send you your welfare check.”

But Democrats pointed out that the new regulations specifically do not exempt states from the work requirement, and plans submitted by the states that function in that way would not be approved. The White House and Obama campaign also argued the change was originally requested by Republican governors who wanted more autonomy — a fact Clinton noted as well.

"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. "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."

Clinton went on to blast the ad as "especially disappointing" because Romney requested welfare waivers as a governor of Massachusetts in 1995.

Romney on Tuesday defended his previous position, telling Fox News that he was never asking for greater flexibility related to welfare’s work thresholds.

“I am all in favor of flexibility for states,” he said. “I am not in favor of reducing the work requirement.”

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith, however, said Romney is simply “not telling the truth" in his criticisms.

“By falsely attacking a policy that both he and his Republican allies have supported for years, Romney is once again flip-flopping on a position he took in Massachusetts, and demonstrating that he lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a president,” Smith said in an email.