MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s an old saying that politics makes strange bedfellows; and that’s very apparent with Republican Mitt Romney trying to attack President Barack Obama by using former President Bill Clinton.
Romney released an ad Tuesday that stated President Obama was out to “gut welfare reform” that was passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President Clinton. There were only two problems with the attack: it wasn’t true, according to independent fact checkers; and President Clinton reiterated that fact.
Politifact rated the ad as “Pants on Fire,” meaning that it was complete lie and meant to mislead, much the same way the organization rated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments on Romney not paying any income tax.
The specific memo was released on July 12 and allowed states to apply for waivers from some unemployment rules to find new and more effective ways of meeting the goals of welfare including, “helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment,” according to the Huffington Post.
Additionally, the ad didn’t mention that in 2005 the Republican Governors Association asked for even larger welfare waivers and was signed by 29 Republican governors, including Mitt Romney, who was at the time the Governor of Massachusetts.
The ad said, “Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check.”
Politifact took that claim to task saying it was, “a drastic distortion of the planned changes to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (welfare). By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What’s more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs – HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law.”
Politifact concluded, “the ad’s claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance. Pants on Fire!”
Former President Clinton also weighed in and blasted the ad:
“The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment. 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 welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived.
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. We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.”
A former senior adviser on welfare policy to President George W. Bush also said the ad was completely without merit, according to the Huffington Post.
“There’s no plausible scenario under which it really constitutes a serious attack on welfare reform,” said Ron Haskins.
The Romney campaign could be playing with fire when it comes to utilizing former President Clinton to attack Obama. President Clinton remains extremely popular with voters and he is going to have a prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention supporting Obama.
Clinton is also arguably the shrewdest politician in the game and can and will strike back against the Romney camp at any time, as he did Tuesday night. Given his popularity amongst voters, if Clinton turns on the heat against the Romney campaign, it may keep Barack Obama in the White House.