By Justin Sink - 08/13/12 11:43 AM EDT
Mitt Romney's campaign on Monday renewed its attacks on President Obama over a change to the federal welfare-to-work program, claiming in a new commercial that the president "has a long history of opposing work-for-welfare."
The ad's narrator argues that "on July 12, Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare. You wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. Mitt Romney strongly believes work must be part of welfare."
And the ad features audio of Obama, then an Illinois state senator, saying in 1998 that he "was not a huge supporter of the federal plan that was signed in 1996."
On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney blasted the depiction of the welfare changes as "categorically false and blatantly dishonest in its representation of the president's policy."
"And that's not just me saying it," Carney continued. "That's President Bill Clinton who has said it. It is Republicans who worked on welfare reform who have said it. It is Republicans, who are putatively out there to advance the argument on behalf of Gov. Romney, who have said there is no proof that the ad is true."
The Obama campaign released a commercial later Friday combating the argument from the Romney campaign.
"See this? Mitt Romney claiming the president would end welfare's work requirements? The New York Times calls it 'blatantly false.' The Washington Post says, 'The Obama administration is not removing the bill's work requirements at all,' " the narrator says.
Some Democrats have argued that the Republican presidential candidate could be attempting to race-bait on the issue of welfare, which remains highly charged. But former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich argued on a call with reporters Monday that the attacks bore no racial undertones.
"The only place that it had widespread tones is in the elite media," Gingrich told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. "The average normal American understood that far more white Americans get food stamps than blacks — to have an honest discussion about dependency doesn't mean you're racist, it means you're worried about the future of people who are being taught to be dependent on the government."
And it appeared this weekend that the Romney campaign would continue to hammer Obama on the issue from the stump. At a Sunday night homecoming rally in Wisconsin, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan blasted Obama over the change in policy.
"We see a president who took what we pioneered here in Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson, welfare reform, getting people off of welfare and back to work and the lives of dignity, personal responsibility, on to a life of hitting their potential," Ryan said. "If this president is going to do these kinds of things in a very difficult, tough election year, imagine what he would do if he never has to face voters ever again. You know what? We’re not going to find out."