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Romney camp standing by ad claiming Obama ‘gutted welfare reform’

“If President Obama didn’t want people to think that he was going to waive the central work requirement in welfare reform, he shouldn’t have written a memo saying he was going to waive the work requirement in welfare reform,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told CNN on Wednesday. “They can issue blog posts and have surrogates saying that’s not what they meant, but the memo still stands. It hasn’t been revoked, and that’s exactly what it says.”

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Republicans blasted President Obama earlier this year after the administration made a policy change that could affect how states administer welfare.

The policy allows states to test new approaches for boosting employment among low-income families through federal waivers that do away with the work requirement. States, however, would lose the waivers if they’re unable to prove that their methods are effective.

Democrats, including Clinton, have denounced a television ad released by the Romney campaign on Monday saying President Obama had “quietly gutted” the welfare reforms Washington enacted in the 1990s.

“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 said on Tuesday. “We need bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.”

Also on Tuesday, the Obama campaign posted a letter on its website signed by then-Massachusetts Gov. Romney and 28 other governors from both parties asking for “increased waiver authority” for their states.

The letter was also signed by such GOP heavyweights as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Saul said Romney’s position on the work requirement hasn’t changed since he was governor, but rather, that Romney was looking for more flexibility in implementing the federal program in his home state.

“There’s a big difference between asking for more state flexibility and gutting the central work requirement, which is what we see now,” Saul said. “As governor, [Romney] actually strengthened work requirements; he vetoed a bill that would weaken them. So for the Obama campaign to try and say that when someone was working to strengthen work requirements that somehow that was weakening them, it’s not right.”