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Romney ad accuses Obama of 'gutting welfare reform'

 

Republican Mitt Romney is making a new push to cast President Obama as a big government liberal, accusing him of dismantling welfare reform, while Democrats renew efforts to paint Romney as a profit-driven businessman.

The Romney campaign released a new television ad Tuesday bashing Obama for removing work requirements from federal welfare regulations, a key element of President Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare overhaul. The ad contends that Obama simply wants to hand out welfare checks, while Romney would restore the work requirement.

The White House says Obama's decision last month to change welfare requirements gives states the flexibility they have been asking for to make the program more efficient. Romney was among several Republican governors who signed a letter in 2005 asking for more "waiver authority." Romney is a former Massachusetts governor.

“In the latest example of Mitt Romney not telling the truth, he falsely attacks the President for weakening welfare to work requirements,"  said campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith. The truth is that the president is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work – not fewer.  As governor, Romney asked for even greater flexibility."

The Romney campaign sees Obama's move as an opportunity to argue that the president is a liberal who wants to give the poor a free pass at the expense of the middle class.

"His policies will take America backward -- back to the discredited liberalism of a bygone era where bigger government programs and bigger government checks were the answer to every problem, and accountability was not on the agenda," said Lanhee Chen, Romney's policy director.

The welfare push also aims to drive a wedge between Obama and Clinton, who has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the president's re-election bid. The Obama campaign, seeking to take advantage of Clinton's popularity and strong economic record while in office, gave Clinton a high-profile, prime-time speaking role at the Democratic convention in early September.

Clinton is also helping the Democratic-leaning super PAC Priorities USA Action boost its sluggish fundraising. The former president will host an event for the group in New York next week to help it raise money.

Priorities USA Action released a new television advertisement Monday targeting Romney's business record at Bain Capital, the private equity fund he ran. The ad features a former employee at GST Steel who lost his job and health insurance when Bain closed the Kansas-based steel plant in 2001. The man says he doesn't think Romney "understands what he's done to people's lives" by closing the plant.

The ad is the fifth in a series by the group targeting Romney's business record, the centerpiece of the presumptive Republican nominee's campaign.

The spot is running in five battleground states: Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Both Romney and Obama were focused Tuesday on raising money. Obama was attending a pair of private fundraisers near the White House, while Romney was raising money in Illinois.

Meanwhile, Republicans announced more speakers for the convention opening Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla., where Romney will officially accept the GOP nomination. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who challenged Romney during the primaries, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are among them.