Obama Rebuts Romney Ad With New Commercial
By Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) — President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign countered Mitt Romney’s controversial television ad about welfare with the release of its own commercial on Friday.
The new Obama ad, “Blatant,” points to news media reports that debunk Romney’s welfare-based attacks, labeling them inaccurate or “blatantly false.”
On Tuesday, the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign launched a TV ad that said the president had dramatically altered the federal welfare-to-work program by dropping the work requirement.
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check,” the narrator says in the ad. “And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
An independent fact-checking organization, PolitiFact, rated the claim as “Pants on Fire.” And the Obama’s campaign, the White House and former President Bill Clinton all pounced on the Romney commercial, saying the claims were false and misleading.
The ad attacks a recent Obama administration directive that allows individual states-which have received a waiver from the Health and Human Services Department-to experiment with changes to the work requirements in their welfare programs. The intent, according to the directive, is to “challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment.”
The program affected by the directive – the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – was created by the bipartisan welfare reform law signed by Clinton in 1996. That measure was considered a win for conservatives, who long pushed for a provision that required work training for Americans receiving government assistance.
The Obama campaign particularly points to a provision in the new directive that governors must “move at least 20% more people from welfare to work” in exchange for more flexibility granted by the waiver.
Despite taking heat for the attacks, however, Romney continued on the offensive Wednesday.
“When it comes to the spirit of America, I want to restore the spirit of independence,” Romney told a crowd at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. “I do not want to install a spirit of dependence on government. And that’s the direction we’re going.”
The new Obama ad released Friday also highlights Clinton’s response to the welfare charges. Tuesday night, the former president blasted out a statement, calling the allegations “not true.”
“The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether,” Clinton wrote, making reference to a 2005 letter signed by Romney and 28 other Republican governors to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling for greater state flexibility in managing their welfare programs.
Obama’s campaign said the 30-second spot will run in the battleground states of Colorado, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.
– CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Kevin Liptak and Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.