Paul Ryan says Obama undermined Clinton-era bipartisan successes

Paul Ryan on Wednesday looked to bracket former President Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, arguing that many of President Obama's policies broke with the bipartisan compromises reached during the 1990s.

"We're going to hear from President Clinton tonight in Charlotte. My guess is we're going to get a great rendition of how great things were in the 1990s, but not hear a lot about how great things are today," Ryan told a crowd of supporters in Iowa.

The Republican vice presidential nominee accused Obama of "rolling back" welfare reforms achieved under Clinton's administration.

Democrats have aggressively pushed back on that characterization of a policy memo issued by the Obama administration that would allow states to apply for a wavier to welfare's work requirement. The administration has pointed out that waivers would only be granted under programs that shifted more welfare recipients back to employment.

Clinton blasted the Romney campaign attacks as "not true" in a statement last month.

“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. “The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived.”

The Romney campaign had dropped the line in recent stump speeches and campaign ads, but Ryan looked to again press the president on the issue Wednesday ahead of Clinton's speech. 

The Obama campaign blasted Ryan's latest attack as a "lie" in a statement to reporters.

"In Iowa, Congressman Ryan repeated Mitt Romney’s welfare lie, but couldn’t say how they’d create a single job now," Obama spokesman Danny Kanner said. "While the Congressman has proven his willingness to ignore the truth, even he should know that President Clinton has joined with every independent fact checker, news organization, and a Republican architect of welfare reform in calling the welfare attack blatantly false."

Later, the vice presidential nominee accused Obama of "a gusher of new spending and only demagoguery for those of us who have proposed solutions," drawing contrast with Clinton's push for balanced budgets.

Ryan also said that his proposal to convert Medicare to a subsidized private-insurance model was "an idea that came out of the Clinton Commission to save Medicare."

The hope is that by characterizing Obama as out of step with Clinton, Republicans can dull excitement generated by the popular former president and paint Obama as extreme.

"Look, we're going to hear a lot of words, but what we're not going to be hearing is that we're better off today than we were four years ago," Ryan said.

At the same time, Democrats are looking to capitalize on the alliance between their last two national leaders.

"Who better to deliver a message to the American people about the choice middle-class families in this country are facing, the difference between what the vision President Obama is presenting to the American people and the vision Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are presenting?" said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday. "He is somebody who can speak directly from experience, not only from his time as President in the ‘90s, but also as somebody who’s been deeply involved in the last decades, post-presidency, about what we need to do to move the country forward, what the right choices are for the American people."