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. Mokeman

    This guy has no credibility whatsover!! He had the same charges against Mitt when he was running against him. Now, he is walking back everything? Do they think we are that stupid? What happen to have a conviction and character to be president? People be true to yourself, open your eyes. They are lying now, what do you think they will do when they actually get in? They are not doing this for you and I, but for themself. They just need us to get them there and that is the extend of the care for you and I. Vote Obama 2012!!!

    August 8, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  2. Robert O'Brien

    So Gingrich is conjecturing that Obama would give checks to people for doing nothing.

    You mean, like what Bain did when they gave Romney over $100,000 a year for at least three years, for doing absolutely, positively, nothing? That is what Romney said happened, right?

    So, Obama is like Bain. Is that a good thing, Newt, or not? The message is a little confusing.

    I swear, these people cannot organize a 2-car funeral. And they will lead us out of economic peril? They can barely lead themselves out of a bathroom stall without pissing on their shoes.

    August 8, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. george of the jungle

    one proven lier defending another lier. Both fine examples of why we don't vote republican the party of No. Show us your taxes mitt.

    August 8, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The question of what Romney did while in office is also up for debate. What did he do while governor about this requirement?

    August 8, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  5. 2020

    Grinrich, Bauchman, 999, santorium.....it will be a great GONG SHOW.

    Grinrich can be Sarin Palin

    Santorium can be McCain.

    Reagan shakes his head, HERE WE GO AGAIN !!

    August 8, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. MP in VA

    These false attacks continue to rain down from both camps. It's not a matter of them treating us like were idiots, these candidates know the voters are complete imbeciles. We really are stupid to put up with this garbage.

    August 8, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  7. Deb in MT

    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."
    =============================================================
    "We have no proof today..."We have no proof today......"We have no proof today..."

    What the heck? What is wrong with today's GOP? They used to –at the very least– be politely acquainted with 'the truth' before they shot off their mouths! Now, they don't even go through the motions, but just slap together another anti-Obama ad from random dust motes circling their brains!

    "We have no proof today..."

    August 8, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    This thing has already been found pants on fire by politifact .com
    Why are you allowing those who said it ( or clear suporters) to try and defend the indefensible the fact checkers are independent what they claim is both baloney or another piece of Romneyloney.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 9, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  9. anthony76

    So Republicans went from calling Obama the "Welfare President", to the one that 'gutted welfare programs'. Which is it fellas?? Cant have it both ways.

    And by the way, WHERE are the TAXES???

    August 9, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. jeff

    Give the Repubs want they want, put it in the states' hands, and they still complain. Obama should have really got Gingrich irate....limited welfare for men to those without any mistresses.

    August 9, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  11. fred37ify

    What ever happened to Barrack telling his brothers to pull their pants up and get a job ? Oh, that was 2008 ! Now it's Obama-bucks !

    August 9, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  12. Dee

    Gingrich is irrelevant as George says so eloquently he is a bloviating ignoramus. He called Mitt a liar and every other word in the book why is Romney wasting time with him?

    August 9, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. Desmond, a Canadian

    The Newt should be ashamed of calling himself a catholic with such specious, even malicious, but baseless assumptions. But then, he is probably right up there with Benedict , alias RAT ZINGER

    August 9, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  14. DixonIV

    What we really need is Congress to Work laws. More importantly, under the current work ethic of the congress we not only could but do send checks out to many who do nothing. Let's worry about the work ethic of our employees in the house and senate forst, then the rest will take care of itself.

    August 9, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  15. ThinkAgain

    What's really sad and pathetic is the fact that Obama-haters only listen to Fox and Limbaugh, who continue to lie and will NEVER present the EVIDENCE that President Obama is NOT trying to "gut" the welfare work requirement.

    The only antidote we have to these people and their stupidity is for every Democrat, Independent and thinking Republican to get out and VOTE for President Obama and a majority Democratic House and Senate in November.

    Otherwise, Mittens and the Repub yahoos who have worked so hard to make our country fail these last almost 4 years will be in power and re-implement the failed policies that nearly sank us in 2008.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    August 9, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  16. James Klimaski

    Gingrich epitomizes all that is wrong and disgusting with this year's Presidential campaign. He will lie about anything simply to get into the public's eye, and hopefully, get paid to do it. The press, of course, gladly gives him coverage. Why is that?

    August 9, 2012 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  17. Young lawyer, Green Libertarian

    The Grand Old Party (GOP Republican) has become now the Grand New CULT (GNC Republicans). The party has no ideas; it's main idea is simply to say "no." Its ideas are NOT ANYTHING that didn't already lead us into three distinct recessions since 2000. It wants "small government" only when it's convenient for trying to get elected. In the story above, here's what is obvious followed by in the end more Republican cult BS:

    A "letter signed by then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and fellow Republican governors in 2005 asking for more flexibility in state welfare reform" was sent to the White House to G.W. Bush. During the Obama administration, two Republican governors from Utah and from Nevada "asked the Obama administration for more flexibility to better deal with welfare in their states."

    "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[.]" That directive requires that "states with the waiver must increase the number of people on welfare going into the workforce by 20%."

    "Of the apparent paradox in Republican ideology, [Newt] 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."

    It's this CONSTANT bs (that is paradoxical and irrational and inconsistent ) from the GOP CULT that makes me realize there is no longer a choice in this two-party democracy of ours. God help us, because our politicians cannot. They only know how to help themselves while hurting us all.

    August 9, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  18. Phil Thomas

    This clown Newt give me a break, you took Romney to the woodshed and now you want to get in his good graces at any cost. Newt you already gave Obama the playbook to beat this loser and to that I say thank you. I wish for once the RNC would go back to what they used to be and not this hateful, extreme right party they have become. They won't be getting my votes anytime soon

    August 9, 2012 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  19. Debra from Georgia

    Romney has went to the gutter. I really thought better of him. This is gutter politics, called the black president the welfare president. This is disgusting.

    August 9, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  20. Debra from Georgia

    This hurts. I am a black woman. I work for a living, I serve my country for 20 years. I have never asked the government for nothing. All the African American people I know have not either. Here we find ourselves in this dirty, gutter politics. This idiot has tried to label President Obama as a welfare, food stamp president in a quite manner. Trying to say to white Americans, he is black. Well that is obvoious, but he has a core, he has values, and he cares about the american people. Romney is a "NASTY" POLITICIAN, and quietly playing the race card.

    August 9, 2012 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  21. Nate

    Why does anyone ever listen to anything Gingrich says? He is a bald-faced liar

    August 9, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  22. ghost

    Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. NOT!

    August 9, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  23. Marie MD

    Maybe we should listen to some of your claims against the bully bishop. Those WERE TRUE!

    August 9, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  24. TomInRochNY

    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."

    They already do, Newt. It's called congress.

    August 9, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  25. Steven Colo

    "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."

    Um, yeah, Obama has not called for Congress to be dissolved...

    August 9, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
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