By Alicia M. Cohn - 08/10/12 11:49 AM EDT
President Obama's campaign seeks to get ahead of Mitt Romney on the campaign trail next week, releasing a new TV ad Friday that calls the presumed GOP nominee's accusation that Obama gutted welfare reform "blatantly false."
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul used Clinton to attack Obama, saying the two presidents "couldn’t be further apart" on welfare.
“It took years for President Clinton and Republicans in Congress to pass historic welfare reforms — but it only took President Obama an instant to undo the legislation’s historic work requirements," Saul said in a statement. "As president, Mitt Romney will restore President Clinton’s reforms and get Americans back to work."
Clinton called the line "disappointing" and "misleading," and the Obama campaign has already pushed back on the claim in a Web video. Now they are hitting television with an ad called “Blatant” that the campaign says will air in Colorado, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
Romney will be in key swing states Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio on a bus tour starting Saturday. This proactive move by the Obama campaign aims to counteract any attacks on welfare Romney might include in his stump speech.
The ad refers to Clinton and fact-checks by the New York Times and Washington Post that find Romney's claim false. According to the voiceover: "Obama’s getting states to move 20 percent more people from welfare to work."
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 argue that the policy shift Romney points to was designed to increase flexibility at the state level, but the Romney campaign says there is a big difference between flexibility and allowing some states to do away with the work requirement. The White House claimed that Republican governors originally requested the change in order to increase flexibility, and the Obama campaign called it a "flip-flop" for Romney to attack the policy.
Obama's policy does allow states to propose pilot programs that could change how qualified welfare recipients are counted in order to request a federal waiver from work requirements, but other “employment outcome" measures are required. The results of this new flexibility will depend on what the Department of Health and Human Services approves. For that reason, ABC's fact-check called Romney's claim "exaggerated" rather than false.