Obama pushes back on welfare attacks, addresses controversial Priorities ad
August 20th, 2012
03:42 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama pushes back on welfare attacks, addresses controversial Priorities ad

(CNN) – President Barack Obama responded to a controversial ad from an outside group backing his presidential campaign while pushing back on Republican claims that his administration would drop the work requirement from welfare-to-work programs, in an unannounced appearance in the White House Briefing Room Monday.

Asked about the ad created by a pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, which linked presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to the death of a steelworker's wife during his tenure at Bain Capital, Obama said that he does not think that Romney is responsible for the woman's death.

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"Keep in mind, this is an ad that I didn't approve, and I did not produce and as far as I can tell, has barely run. I think it ran once," said Obama.

The ad was announced in early August and aired as a paid commercial only once in Ohio, an accident by the station, according to Priorities' senior strategist Bill Burton. But the ad ran over and over as part of the cable news debate that it sparked.

An analysis by CNN poked holes in the Priorities' ad's timeline, showing Romney had left the private equity firm before the company shut down GST Steel and Joe Soptic, the cancer patient's husband and the narrator in the ad, subsequently lost health insurance.

In the briefing, Obama quickly pivoted to a series of attacks ads created by Romney's campaign claiming that the president's administration would drop work requirements from the federal welfare program.

The latest in a series of three commercials was announced Monday morning and continues claims that the Obama administration is attempting to alter the federal welfare-to-work program.

"In contrast, you have Governor Romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign, this notion that we are taking the work requirement out of welfare," said Obama.

The president continued: "What (Romney) is arguing is that we have somehow changed the work requirement in our welfare laws. And, in fact, what has happened was that my administration responding to the requests of five governors, including two Republican governors, agreed to approve giving them, those states, some flexibility in how they manage the welfare rolls as long as it produced 20% increases in the number of people who are getting work."

Independent fact-check organizations have called the claims in one of the previous ads by the Romney campaign false and misleading. Team Romney has stood by their advertisements, which continue broadcasting.

-CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Priorities USA
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. nothing new here

    I would have thought that small-government conservatives would applaud the option for states to develop their own welfare/work requirements...very strange.
    I think this is nothing more than political talking points, just some hot air that detracts from the real issue at hand. I am referring to the economy.

    August 20, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Obama/Biden - We Wanna Put Government Chains on Y'ALL

    Wow, an unannounce appearance huh? Something must have gotten Obama all worked up. Here's been hiding in a hole and not holding any press conferences where people can ask him tough questions like why is the unemployment rate so high and now climbing? What are your NEW plans? And Have you packed your bags yet????!!!

    August 20, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. ghostriter

    See how that works? He made the distinction that republicans are complaining about superPAC ads (a result of policies they pushed, mind you) while Romney himself is pushing ads that aren't true at all.

    August 20, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. v_mag

    However, it is indisputable that Romney started Bain with $9M he got from Salvadorans who backed death squads in the 80's. He knew who they were, and he took their investment money. That made them more money, and they continued to murder peasants in their own country. What kind of man is Romney?

    August 20, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Maxx

    Romney just makes stuff up. That's why no one trusts him.

    August 20, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. bb

    Then why is welfare at the highest its ever been ans OBLUNDER=FAILURE, this isnt about repubs and dems any more this is about getting someone capable of doing something in charge agin OBLUNDER=FAILURE

    August 20, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. incredulous

    It didn't surprise me that Romney lied about the welfare to work issue but it does surprise me that he keeps lying after every reputable news source exposed the lie. Why do people let him keep getting away with it?

    August 20, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Is Mittens then responsible for the PAC attacks from Rove, the Kochs and the swiftboaters?

    August 20, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. American People

    The GOP plan for the American People: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Unemployed, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Employed, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military.

    August 20, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. GOP = Greed Over People

    Lying is a Mormon virtue.

    August 20, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. jerrylax

    oh it's those Republican governors who did this...gutted the welfare program. Having a work requirement in welfare apparently does not make sense to obama...but buying welfare votes certainly does.... another obama smoking mirror and distortion.

    August 20, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Independent fact-check organizations have called the claims in one of the previous ads by the Romney campaign false and misleading. Team Romney has stood by their advertisements, which continue broadcasting.
    --------------–
    The public needs to be educated about the letter signed by 29 Republican governers, including Romney, asking President Bush to enact this same policy. Give the states the rights to determine how best to implement the federal work requirements.

    August 20, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. chill

    Typical GOP tactic to repeat lies so often people begin to believe them despite every reputable source stating they are lies. So is the Republican governor of Utah trying to gut welfare too Mitt?

    August 20, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. cj1

    I read this comments and have come to one conclusion: You are all idiots. The only one who has lied is Obama himself. Getr your facts straight.

    August 20, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. David in Houston

    @bb
    "Then why is welfare at the highest its ever been ans OBLUNDER=FAILURE"

    I would ask you to provide some facts to back up your so-called statistic...but we both know such data doesn't exist.

    Nice try though...

    August 20, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. gord

    wonder how many on welfare because of the job shippers,iam sure romney and his friends can fined some odd jobs for this cheap labour

    August 20, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Tinisha

    CJ1 please explain what lie has PBO told about the Welfare Requirement.? I really wanna know.

    August 20, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. jerrylax

    the previous post mentioning governors asking President Bush to allow the states more power over welfare is a distortion of facts....this was a move to get power back to the states...not to expand welfare or gut the work requirement....the usual left wing distortion.

    August 20, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Jailtime

    The Romney Medicare Voucher Plan will become the Romney/Ryan Medicare Vulture Plan. Big tax cuts to the wealthy and a piece of scrap paper for those under 55 today.

    August 20, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Wilson

    We are fast becoming a 50-50 nation. 50 percent working and being taxed to give the other 50 percent that don't want to work their hand out.

    August 20, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Four and The Door

    The president continued: "What (Romney) is arguing is that we have somehow changed the work requirement in our welfare laws. And, in fact, what has happened was that my administration responding to the requests of five governors, including two Republican governors, agreed to approve giving them, those states, some flexibility in how they manage the welfare rolls as long as it produced 20% increases in the number of people who are getting work.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Typical Obama deflection. Half lie ( he absolutely did change the work requirement ) and half finger pointing ( responding to requests... blah blah blah ). Classic Obama and what we expect anymore. We can do better. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    August 20, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. once upon a horse

    where is Joe (YOU LIE) Wilson when you need him? Oh forgot he's a Republican anyway, but somebody should be in the crowd while Mitt keeps telling this untruth (amongst others that have also been proven to be untrue) and shout out "YOU LIE"!

    August 20, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Four and The Door

    Jailtime
    The Romney Medicare Voucher Plan will become the Romney/Ryan Medicare Vulture Plan. Big tax cuts to the wealthy and a piece of scrap paper for those under 55 today.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Really? I suppose then you didn't believe the independent report yesterday that said it would increase the quality of care and cut the cost. Or you didn't hear the parts where if you choose to stay in the traditional Medicare ( same payment for lousy or excellent care ) then you can stay. But if you do stay with the flawed system available today, chances are you don't care any more about the quality of care than Obama does.

    August 20, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Corey

    BB and CJ1, I can tell you two are unread and uneducated, and only believe the Republican lie and spin machine. Talk about idiots.....

    August 20, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Why do people let him keep getting away with it?"

    Because it sells advertising for there to be a sensational controversy in the article.

    August 20, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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