August 8th, 2012
07:29 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich: 'No proof today' to back claims in Romney ad

(CNN)-Newt Gingrich again defended the Romney campaign's attacks on President Barack Obama's "gutting" of the nation's welfare system on Wednesday.

Asked by CNN on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," if he believes the ad, released Tuesday claiming a directive issued by Obama would "gut welfare reform," is misleading, the former House speaker declined, further backing-up his former Republican primary opponent.

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The Obama administration issued a directive on July 12 of this year allowing individual states to experiment with changes to their welfare-to-work programs, which are federally funded, with the purpose to "challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment."

Following the Romney campaign ad, Obama staffers have pointed to a letter signed by then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and fellow Republican governors in 2005 asking for more flexibility in state welfare reform. Of the letter, Gingrich said Romney was actually working to allow state legislature to increase work requirements from 50% to 70%.

Gingrich later toned down his support for the wording of the attacks in an interview with CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" saying, "I think if the ad makers had asked me I would have said, 'This makes it possible,' would have been a good way to enter into what it said."

Gingrich continued, "We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Obama's ideology it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing."

Blitzer cited two Republican governors–Gary Herbert from Utah and Brian Sandoval from Nevada–who asked the Obama administration for more flexibility to better deal with welfare in their states.

To that, Gingrich said they weren't asking for those kinds of waivers and, "They both came out and said they were against what the Obama administration's done."

Of the apparent paradox in Republican ideology, Gingrich allowed that while generally conservative philosophy tries to lessen the federal government involvement in state issues, in this case what counted as work was being stretched beyond acceptability.

"On the issue of work requirement, we felt deeply and accurately and I think Robert would reinforce this that unless you made it a mandatory work requirement, it would get waived to a point where it became a joke. The American people overwhelming believe in the work ethic. And they overwhelmingly reject dependency on the government," said Gingrich.

Tuesday's ad accuses the Obama administration of dropping work requirements for those receiving welfare.

"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 announcer in the ad continues. "And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has strongly pushed back, however, calling the attacks false and pointing to the part of the directive's requirement that states with the waiver must increase the number of people on welfare going into the workforce by 20%.

Gingrich was the House speaker in 1996 when welfare reform was signed under then-President Bill Clinton. Passed under welfare reform was a program–the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)–which would be affected by Obama's directive. The measure was deemed a win by conservatives, who long pushed for a provision that required work training for Americans receiving government assistance.

Clinton released a statement in defense of the Obama administration on Tuesday calling the Romney campaign ad 'disappointing.'

"Governor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true," Clinton wrote, adding that the Obama administration had taken steps to ensure work requirements for welfare recipients were maintained.

To Clinton's response, Gingrich said that while he did work with the Democratic president to reform welfare, Clinton was not always right.

"First of all Bill Clinton I'm sure was contacted by the Obama White House or the Obama campaign," said Gingrich. "As I just reported a second ago, both those Republican governors disagree with being used by Obama as a defense for what he's doing," referring to governors Sandoval and Herbert.

Gingrich reiterated that he doesn't think Obama has the authority to waive the requirement adding, "the reason was candidly we and the conservative republican congress did not trust the liberal governors to actually keep a work requirement if they had a chance to do away with it. Look at everything Obama's done. Look at all of his commitments on food stamps, all of his commitment on increased commitment on increase dependency."

Earlier Wednesday Gingrich called Obama's methods to alter the program "radical" and as part of a liberal agenda.

"There's just a remarkable difference between Clinton and Obama," Gingrich said on a conference call with reporters. "In many ways, Obama is the anti-Clinton."

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand and Ashley Killough contributed to this report

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.


Filed under: Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • The Situation Room • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Yonni

    Mitt by himself is a perfect liar and he is not enough that the GOP pulled out Newt the professional fraud

    August 8, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. SafeJourney

    Repubs, Newt is one of the most corrupt and morally bankrupt people in America. Thats right, let this degenerate speak for you

    August 8, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. BBear

    Mr. Speaker, some of us remember you calling Mr. Romney a LIAR in the primary. So why should we believe what either of you say now?

    August 8, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. Thomas

    “I would just say that if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain that I would be glad to then listen to him. I’ll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer.”

    Newt Gingrich on Mitt Romney’s business experience as the owner of Bain Capital.

    August 8, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  5. beevee

    Who will believe a guy who cheated on his wife. He is probably expecting something from Romney if ever he wins. Looks like Romeny is not going to win anything.

    August 8, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. hangar13

    Interesting that every attack ad by the Obama campaign and its PACs has rated the coveted "Four Pinochios" by none other than the left-leaning Washington Post, and yet CNN chooses a debatable ad from Romney to publicize. Nope, no liberal bias here. It's amazing that CNN still has all those dozens of viewers.

    August 8, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. ron

    Newt, stop embarrassing yourself. Now, you know why the GOP chose Romney Hood over you! That's gotta hurt.

    August 8, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. CBR

    Newt Gingrich is back in the limelight. Nothing is better for him because he does think he has all the answers. Wonder why he is coming to defend Romney?

    August 8, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. HRPuckinfutz

    Gingrich is licking Romney's boots in a futile attempt to be selected as Romney's runningmate. Keep licking, Newt. Your tounge will be covered in blisters and you still will be ignored by Romney (and rightfully so).

    August 8, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. Eye of Newt

    Keep talking Newt. You are the kind of spokesmen that the opposition dreams about. A lying, sleazy, cheating, corpulent little rodent who turns everyone off including members of his own party. I thought I had seen the last of this vulture when the House of Representatives found him guilty of ethics charges and booted him out of Washington. Now the slimy little cretin is back in front of the spotlight telling anyone who will listen how that was a partisan political witch hunt against him. Really, Newt? As I remember it, 395 members of the House voted and found you guilty of ethics violations, and 196 of those members of the House were your fellow Republicans. The vote was 395-28. That is hardly a partisan vote. The fact that some of your fellow Republicans who voted against you are now dragging you back out as a spokesman speaks volumes about what the Republican party of today has become versus the GOP of old.

    I guess Romney really wants to win the White House at all costs to have a little bottom-feeder like you to speak on his behalf. It's kind of desperate looking. I hardly think you are the guy who is going to raise the Romney favorability ratings that are tanking at 40% and holding steady. Then again, maybe the whole idea is to trot out Eye of Newt and make Romney seem more appealing? It's not working. What I'm seeing now is 2 swine wallowing in the mud together. There's not enough lipstick and perfume to put on either of these slimy pigs to make either of them look appealing.

    August 8, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  11. kathy/Minnesota

    Newt,newt,newt do you have any idea how utterly stupid you look? you threw so many low blows during the primary season, and now you want to speak "SO VERY HIGHLY" of swiss mitt? come on please, and how do you expect to have any credibility? this is really a sad day in america. But the bright spot of the day was when one of mittens higher up camp. aides actually admitted on FOX(not news) that if the dear lady who passed away from cancer, would have only lived in mitt romney's state she would possibly be alive today.....icing on the cake. THANK YOU ROMNEY CAMP.

    August 8, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Iamnotfooled

    Another LIAR.

    August 8, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  13. Jules

    I saw this segment on Anderson Cooper 360. Newt didn't do a good job defending the Romney lies, well, he couldn't could he, since everyone knows it is a lie and Romney compounds it by blatantly saying it. This guy has no morals at all. I thought Mormons beleived in the Ten Commandments, too. Just as a reminder, there is one about thou shalt not bear false witness. He doen't follow that one at all. Back to Newt, he danced and he twirled and he changed the subject and when Anderson Cooper kept after him about whether it was true or not, the best he could come up with is that it could be in the future. HA! That's the GOP these days. The most disingenuous people ever. Newt did try, though. When he said no that it wasn't true, you had to be paying close attention because he said no and then rolled on to that blah blah blah.

    August 8, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. Rupert Murdoch = Josef Goebbels

    "States with the waiver must increase by 20% the number of people on welfare entering the workforce." Read the memo.

    This was wanted by Republican governors, including Romney, until it was given to them by President Obama.

    "We don't trust liberal governors," and so now, the entire Republican party flip-flops on the "states' rights" issue.

    August 8, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. Hillcrester

    Having Gingrich "defend" Romney, after how he lambasted him in the run-up to the nomination, must feel like getting a neck massage from the Boston Strangler. I can't believe that having that obese walrus on his side will help Romney.

    August 8, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. max

    That fat disgusting liar is getting desperate … the neocons are so used to lying in business, to each other, in church and at home that they can’t spot their own lies … r’money got caught AGAIN and now his horde of pukes is in defensive mode

    August 8, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. enuff

    Why is Gingrich trying to take center stage? He must be taking notes from Palin. He obviously didn't get the memo that he is irrelevant.

    August 8, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  18. Ins1te

    Gingrich opinions = double speak

    August 8, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  19. once upon a horse

    so Mitt Romney is going to turn to a man that flat out called him a LIAR in the primaries to defend a lie he his trying to pan off to the American people? Sounds like desperation time to me.

    August 8, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  20. steven harnack

    I wonder if these guys have to carry a book around with them so they can keep track of all of the lies and what proposals that they once made that they now have to trash because that darned Obama went and agreed with them. Gingrich only said one true thing in his whole spiel and that was "we have no proof today" but that didn't stop him from saying that he knows blah blah blah. Every time Gingrich promotes Romney you should show some footage of him from earlier this year when he was singing a very different tune

    August 8, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  21. jimPNW

    Do I believe a past, two time President or a person who had to resign because he was a liar and dishonest? HMMMM
    This comes from someone whose own party did not want him as a President. Tell me how all those things you said about Mr. Romney a couple of months ago are now not true! You sir are such a joke.

    August 8, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. Peter Gregory

    As an Australian, I find it hard to accept that only the rich can become the President of USA. It is also concerning that those who reach the dizzy heights and those who get positions in government as payback for support also control the fate of the rest of the country. Having read in depth about political corruption, I find the lack of investigation into corrupt practices to be astounding. The silence is deafening – it is also disgusting. The military/industrial complex is the real controller of the country and the citizens are kept in place by fear. The Patriot Act proved this clearly. Wonder what will happen when China calls in it's debts? Will we end up with a Chinese (born in America) President?
    Best of luck even though you don't deserve it.

    Peter Gregory
    Proud Aussie

    August 8, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  23. DAVID

    gee! i thought that newt really did retire and go fishing! i guess my thinking was ok after all he is fishing!

    August 8, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. RogerInSTL

    It kills me how when they are proven to be lying they still say they are telling the truth.

    August 8, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. LIB

    I wonder how much mitt is paying newt. Newt can't stand mitt. Mitt has to pay santorum, newt and all of them except John Huntsman who was the most decent of them all. I have to say I admire John Huntsman who can't be bought. What a decent man., Too bad the repubs didn't suppport him.

    August 8, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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