DES MOINES, Iowa - For the second straight day, Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of carefully dismantling welfare reform and encouraging a culture of government reliance.
"With a very careful executive action he removed the requirement of work from welfare," Romney told a few hundred supporters at a local high school gymnasium. "It is wrong to make any change that would make America more of a nation of government dependency."
At the heart of the issue is a July directive by the Health and Human Services department granting states waivers from the work requirement of the landmark 1996 welfare law in order to test out alternative approaches for struggling families.
Some Republicans, including Governor Romney, believe the exception would reverse previous policy, discouraging Americans from actively looking for work while receiving benefits, essentially growing the number of Americans who rely on welfare. The attack fits into the broader picture Romney is painting of Obama - a big government liberal unable to fix the nation's stagnant economy.
"When it comes to the spirit of America, I want to restore the spirit of independence," Romney stated to loud applause. "I do not want to install a spirit of dependence on government, and that's the direction we're going."
The Obama campaign has maintained the waiver will increase a state's flexibility in delivering welfare benefits, and circulated a 2005 letter, signed by then Governor Romney along with 28 other governors, asking for increased waiver authority.
In a statement following the event, Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith accused Romney of hypocrisy and for continuing to make "untrue" statements, saying "If we take Mitt Romney at his word today that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, it becomes clear that he lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a President."
Former president Bill Clinton, an architect of welfare reform, came to the president's defense, releasing a statement calling Romney's attacks "disappointing" while saying the core of his original law was preserved.
"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," the statement said in part.
Noticeably absent from the presumptive GOP's speech today was any mention of his opposition to extending wind energy tax credits, an extremely popular measure in the Hawkeye State set to run out at the end of the year. President Obama, along with several Republican lawmakers including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Terry Brandstad, have advocated for renewing the credit.