Sununu stands by debunked welfare criticism of Obama
August 22nd, 2012
08:46 PM ET
2 years ago

Sununu stands by debunked welfare criticism of Obama

(CNN) - John Sununu, a high-profile surrogate for Mitt Romney, on Wednesday stood by the criticism of President Barack Obama in Romney campaign television advertisements that make a claim CNN and others have found to be false.

"But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements," said one ad, using language similar to a spot released Wednesday morning. "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."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Sununu, who is a former governor of New Hampshire, argued on CNN's "The Situation Room" that the Obama administration weakened work rules related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in a July 12 Health and Human Services memorandum.

Sununu said the memorandum goes "well beyond" a waiver request from several governors related to the law. Among the governors who have recently requested waivers are two Republicans.

Governors can request, and may be granted, waivers from certain aspects of the law, and the memo in question said the "Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is interested in more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits." Requests must be accompanied by an "evaluation plan," a timetable, budget, public input, and "a set of performance measures that states will track to monitor ongoing performance and outcomes throughout the length of the demonstration project."

Romney and Republicans have seized on the memo. Last week, Romney told reporters that the president has allowed for "a removal of the work requirement in certain cases." Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, charged in an interview Tuesday that Obama "is weakening the work requirements which where I come from in Wisconsin, it was a smashing success."

Sununu argued that the Obama administration's memo included "broad-enough language that allows it to include aspects that are not employer training, real training or employer related.

"And what you want to avoid is language that encourages or permits people to do those soft self-studies that a lot of people have been talking about that people ought to be able to do, to look for work on the Internet instead of going to an employer," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Blitzer read from the governors' requests and the HHS memo, and told Sununu,"We've done the research. Not only us, but every major fact-checker has done the research and the president wants to make sure that in this particular case, that work requirement is maintained."

"It's not just CNN, it's every major fact-checking organization has said he has not gutted, has not gutted by any means, the work requirements," Blitzer said.

A CNN fact-check of the ad's claim aired earlier in the program and rated it false. PolitiFact.com categorized it as "Pants on Fire!" and FactCheck.org wrote, "A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted 'a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.' The plan does neither of those things."

Pressed about the fact check reports in an interview Wednesday, Romney himself offered a defense and essentially faulted the outlets for showing bias, even though his campaign has used analyses by some of the groups, like FactCheck.org, to bolster its own arguments.

"Fact-checkers on both sides of the aisle will look in the way they think is most consistent with their own views," Romney told the Des Moines Register in Iowa, before repeating the claim. "It's very clear that others who have looked at the same issue feel that the president violates the provision of the act which requires work in welfare, defines what work is. He guts that, he ends that requirement for those that seek that welfare."

The president also answered a question on the subject in a Monday news conference, saying, "Everybody who's looked at this says what Governor Romney is saying is absolutely wrong."

"In fact what's 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 their welfare rolls as long as it produced 20 percent increases in the number of people who are getting work," he said. "So in other words, we would potentially give states more flexibility to put more people back to work, not to take them off the work requirement under welfare."

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

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.


Filed under: 2012 • John Sununu • Medicare • Mitt Romney • President Obama • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Repuglicans are desperate! They will, lie, cheat, steal votes, bribe, slander, misrepresent to put someone into the White House! They lie to you about creating jobs and limited govt. while they are actually increasing the size of govt in your private life; invading your personal lives, raping women, and children...denigrating everyone by forcing rape victims to have their babies....while denying medicaid, or any govt. help for rape victim!!! Cutting off funding for govt programs while using the savings to give more TAX CUTS to billionaires & millionaires and starting a new TRILLION DOLLAR$$$ war in IRAN & SYRIA!!!!

    August 22, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  2. 920th RQS VET

    My rich grandfather loved this quote...."Money & Intelligence have little to NO relation."

    August 22, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. Vee

    Lightning should strike every time they tell big lies.

    August 22, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Where do the republicans find these knuckle draggers? Each one of them says something more stupid every time they open their mouths. One would think they would hit bottom after a while but they then start digging holes so they can sink deeper and deeper. When will it end?

    August 22, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. Liz the First

    Typlcal! Facts mean nothing to republicans. they are a party of seriously delusional people totally out of touch with reality. they're not fit to govern!

    August 22, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  6. A Sane Person

    5 Simple Rules for Voting

    Rule 1: If a Person watches a Lie and does nothing, it is as if they Lied

    Rule 2: If a Person Lies and he doesn't repent... They WILL do it again...

    Rule 3: If a Person will Lie, They will Cheat

    Rule 4: If a Person is willing to Cheat, They will Steel from you at some point

    Rule 5: Never vote for a Person that you catch in an unrepentant Lie....

    August 22, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. Mike in Texas

    Obama haters keep saying Obama isn't running on his record. He has. He has talked about over 2 years of job growth, health care law, saving GM, repealing DADT, etc. Obama haters hate all this. They look at everything as a failure. They are suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    There is a new book out called the New New Deal where there are Republicans going on record saying they couldn't work with the President because they Republican Powers told them not to. The Republican powers determined the only way to get power back was to make the President fail because if they worked with him and things got better, Obama would be re elected.

    August 22, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  8. Mike in Texas

    Obama haters keep complaining Obama isn't running on his record. He has but you hate it so why do you care? What about your guy Romney? How many times has he talked about his record as Governor of Massachusetts. The wuss keeps running away from his state mandate because the neo cons don't like it. Romney should be a queen because he has no balls.

    August 22, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  9. noteasilyswayed

    GOP candidates and their surrogates continue to deny facts and say the only truth is what comes out of their mouths..... FAIL!! the longer this campaign goes on, the more distortions and lies you will hear from these people.... they think voters are stupid, but come November they will have to accept the agony of defeat.

    August 22, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. RudyG

    CNN says the statement is false? Well, then I guess there must be a lot of truth to the statement! CNN and fact-checking are perfectly opposite and irreconcilable concepts!

    August 22, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. Michael

    What a disgusting tick Sununu is, he must leave a trail of slime wherever he goes.

    Today's GOP is completely repellent and vile.

    August 22, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. JPNAmerican

    wow Romney already doubled down after Politifact rated his claim as "pants on fire". At this point what is this quadruple down. I don't see how Obama leaving it up to the states(Which is what Republicans always wants from the Federal Governement so this is really confusing) is amounting up to Obama dropping right to work requirements

    August 22, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  13. Larry L

    How does this right-wing freak get press time? He's like the attack pig for the Republicans who don't want to be associated with the stupid comments – but still want the words to get said. What a political weasel.

    August 22, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. Phil Thomas

    come on America look at the people this guy surrounds himself with, Liars, Corporate Crooks, its Sad. I get that it freaks you out a black man is in the white house but really this is better ? Obama is a stand up guy, get over your hatred and open your eyes to the lying

    August 22, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  15. tony

    Hey he's a god fearing conservative christian republican politician. Believes strongly in the Nine Commandments. 1-8 and 10.

    God loves and trusts them so much, that he has given a special dispensation on the 9th, so the end justifies the means.

    August 22, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  16. Jack

    I this case, Mr. Sununu and Mr. Akin, you've helped this independent conservative to galvanized my decision to vote to make sure their a Democrat in Executive branch and the Senate and House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats for the next 4 years.

    August 22, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  17. Craig

    Sununu lies and makes stuff up all the time otherwise he wouldn't have anything to say. The Republicans have absolutely nothing to offer; they're not going to win and they know it.

    August 23, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  18. george of the jungle

    This looney should stop lying. Repos are really crazy vote them all out 2012

    August 23, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  19. aaron

    It'll likely be more productive to point out when Sununu tells the truth. Of course, that'd be a perpetually blank webpage.

    August 23, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  20. Mike

    The Republican party seems have a campaign strategy: "Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it." It worked out well for Hitler and Nazis Germany for a few years too.

    August 23, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  21. NameRobert Lesser

    lies and misinformation that is all.Romney has to offer..And whats in those tax returns? Why is he paying a lower tax rate than I am?

    August 23, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  22. BBear

    Mr. Blitzer did a good job of calling Mr. Sunnunu out on this issue. And as you write, in Iowa this afternoon, Mr,. Romney dismissed all the fact checkers that say these ads are false by saying, that the fact checkers are all biased. He needs to be reminded that a number of Republicans, including Scarborough, have reached the same conclusion. I've come to the sad conclusion that to Mr. Romney lying is simply a legitimate political and business tactic. This trait, alone, disqualifies him from holding elective office.

    August 23, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  23. B100Z

    Sununu. What a creep.

    August 23, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  24. jay

    I'm not American. I'm just visiting. What I see is that almost half the country would rather vote for a lying white man, than an honest black man. They say that democracy is not perfect, but it's the best we have. What I see in America is that democracy is disfunctional (at best) and manipulative (at worst).

    August 23, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  25. Darrell

    Republican cannot help themselves. As the old saying goes, a lie cannot stand up. Yet, the Republicans, especially Mitt and Ryan, are willing to try and just lie.

    August 23, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
1 2 3