Obama plays defense with welfare ad

at 08:32 AM ET, 08/10/2012

President Obama is using a new TV ad to push back on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s claims that the administration is planning to “gut welfare.”

“Blatant” quotes the New York Times, The Washington Post and former President Bill Clinton in knocking down the attack, which is based on a new Health and Human Services policy offering some states more flexibility in how (but not whether) they move people from welfare to work.

“Seen this? Mitt Romney claiming the President would end welfare’s work requirements?” the narrator asks. “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.’ In fact, Obama’s getting states to move 20 percent more people from welfare to work. And President Clinton’s reaction to the Romney ad? It’s just ‘not true.’”

The ad’s reference is to Ezra Klein’s left-leaning blog, but our Factchecker, Glenn Kessler, also gave Romney’s ad four Pinnochios, its designation for the most misleading ads and political statements.

When Obama attacked Romney as an outsourcer, the Republican ran a similar ad citing fact checkers— adding a 2008 clip of Hillary Clinton telling Obama, her rival at the time, “Shame on you.”

As The Fix wrote earlier this week, spurious attacks are often effective; most voters don’t pay attention to the back-and-forth among surrogates and fact checkers that follows. But recent ads — including Romney’s welfare reform spot — have gotten an unusual amount of pushback. The media was quick to cold water on the claim. Pressed in a CNN interview, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted that there was “no proof” that Romney would gut welfare.

Romney’s campaign stands by the original ad. “The facts are clear: President Obama’s executive action dismantles welfare-to-work and undermines the very premise of bipartisan welfare reform,” spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.

“Blatant” is airing in Colorado, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.

 
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