Clinton calls out ‘disappointing’ Romney ad
August 8th, 2012
01:01 AM ET
9 years ago

Clinton calls out ‘disappointing’ Romney ad

(CNN) – Bill Clinton said an attack ad from Mitt Romney misconstrues recent changes pushed by President Barack Obama to the welfare reform law Clinton signed as president.

“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 said in a statement Tuesday, adding that the Obama administration had taken steps to ensure work requirements for welfare recipients were maintained.

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

The welfare-to-work program affected by the directive – the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – was created by the welfare reform law signed by Clinton in 1996. That measure was considered a win for conservatives, who long pushed for a provision that required work training for Americans receiving government assistance.

In Tuesday's ad from the Romney campaign, an announcer points to Clinton's achievement, and claims Obama's directive would "gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements."

"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 continues. "And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."

Clinton said that was untrue, and wrote that Romney himself pushed for changes to welfare laws while he was governor of Massachusetts.

“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,” Clinton wrote, making reference to a 2005 letter signed by Romney and 28 other Republican governors to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling for greater state flexibility in managing their welfare programs.

Clinton said Romney’s campaign spot wasn’t helpful in solving the real problem of getting people off government assistance and into well-paying jobs.

“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,” Clinton wrote.

In response to Clinton's comments, Romney Campaign Spokesman Ryan Williams released a statement saying, “President Obama was a vocal opponent of the innovative, bipartisan welfare reforms that President Clinton and a Republican Congress passed in 1996. His administration has now undermined the central premise of those reforms by gutting the welfare-to-work requirement. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has a record of fighting to strengthen work requirements. As president, he will ensure that nearly sixteen years of progress aren’t erased with one stroke of a pen.”

Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Bill Clinton • Massachusetts • Mitt Romney
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    zackofspades- Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress balanced the spite of Bill Clinton, not because of him.

    August 8, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. LIB

    @Ray how are Clinton and Obama expanding the welfare state when they have allowed it to be up to the governors which two are republicans. Even ROmney when govenor passed a similar plan. Why don't you put your hate aside and read. the biggest problem with republicans is their HATE!!

    August 8, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    “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,”

    Hey, Bill Clinton. 90% of what Romney is selling is just not true. Even back when he first hit the political scene in Massachusetts, Romney was nothing but a (to put it kindly) deceiver. Only thing consistent about him. Just ask John McCain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. In my family, Mitt is what we have lately coined as an "equal opportunity" deceiver ... he attacks everyone with his falsehoods, regardless of party affiliation.

    August 8, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    "States rights!!!! States rights!!!!".......except when suggested by a Democrat or is a red-meat social issue to the rabid thumpers and zealots

    August 8, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. ghostriter

    In 2005, 29 Republican Governors requested more flexibility in implementing welfare work requirements. They asked Congress for “increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit” in order to “effectively serve low-income” Americans according to their states’ needs. One of these governors was, as the mayor of London once put it, a guy called Mitt Romney.

    Last month, the governors of Utah and Nevada—both Republicans—again requested flexibility in implementing work requirements, and applied for waivers to certain rules. The Obama administration agreed. Then a guy called Mitt Romney accused the president of gutting welfare reform.

    For the record, the waivers don’t do away with the work requirement; they provide states with more flexibility in how they shift welfare recipients into jobs. We call this federalism. But if the president’s guilty of gutting welfare reform, then his challenger’s guilty of having tried to do the same thing in 2005.

    August 8, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. JoanMS

    Why is Romney Hood, and his gang of merry men, always picking on the poor?

    August 8, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Craig from LA

    Clinton exposes just more Republican lies. If a state opts out of the madatory work requirement – their choice, then they MUST demonstrate an increase in employment of welfare recipients by 20%. Yes an increase. So Obama's plan dpes not gut the work requirement as is falsely asserted. For those on the right, you are NOT entitled to your own facts.

    August 8, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Reggie19

    I wish Bill Clinton would come out and tell us the American people what he really thinks of Obama. Right now he is saying what he knows the democrats wants to hear but we know different. Speak the truth Mr. Clinton and say your true feelings of Obama. We know it would be completely different from what you are saying right now.

    August 8, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. JohnReedjr

    Republicans are so blinded by hatred of Obama that they cannot see the truths, and the pols who manipulate them continuously appeal to the least common denominator. We've had abortion, gay rights, gun uncontrol, birth control, vouchers for private (church) schools, voter fraud, The Unions, public sectors employees, Democrats being anti-military,
    and now welfare queens.

    August 8, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. longtooth

    Romney has no real focus to his campaign other than to win. He obviously has no moral compass, and will continue to distort the truth to the bitter end. When he reveals his tax returns, people may begin to take him seriously as a candidate. Until then, he's just another cardboard cut-out.

    August 8, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Here we go again

    The budget was balanced because a) No wars b) Taxes were increased c) The technology bubble was blooming, hence increased employment with taxes being paid d) The heathcare initiative failed and e) Because of the steady leadership of Clinton, the Republicans were not able to drive us into a deficit by reversing a and b.

    August 8, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. max

    No wonder his favorability rate is sinking...will he stop lying? Enough already...we get it, you want to win but lying is so petty and ugly...such a turn off!!! People would give Romney a chance if he stood for something. Please just stop lying and speak to your strengths instead. We would be more drawn to someone being honest and making a case why could trust you. Enough!!!

    August 8, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Obama Mama

    @Ancient Texan- What you have failed to reveal. Clinton put forth a way to balance the budget, but in doing so the Newt Gingrich GOP put in the budget balancing bill to deregulate Steagal Glass Act which is the direct reason we are here. Steagal Glass that worked for our country for 70 years was repealed and the banking system failed. Good work Greedy GOP. Keep supporting a party that uses the working people. (lackies of GOP)

    August 8, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota


    What I fail to understand is why Republicans believe that Democrats don't work.

    It's not that at all. It is, however, the only thing left for the Fox-a-holics to hold onto. Their "specially" picked candidate Mitt Romney isn't exactly the pillar they thought he'd be. They have nothing left but their hate and their insults. Whatever heroism John McCain had in Vietnam has been washed out and wiped clean the day he brought Sarah Palin into the limelight. Ever notice just how low Republicans have gone this past three years? Thank John McCain .... and now Mitt Romney for continuing to carry THAT particular Olympic torch of GOPerville "togetherness" into our political scene.

    August 8, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Why is Romney Hood, and his gang of merry men, always picking on the poor?"

    Part of the cognitive disfunction of existing in the ideological echo chamber of a contemporary 'Murkin right wing extremist conservative is that they vehemently, religiously, fanatically believe that wealth is proof of virtue, goodness, righteousness and societal worth and that economic class/status and power are the scale by which such things are measured.

    Now, flip that around and tell me what they think of the poor. 2 + 2...

    August 8, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. sayer

    This just shows the country how Romney will lie just to become president. He cannpt be trusted.

    August 8, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Critical Thinking

    Geez an ex democratic president comes out to defend and existing democratic there is a BIG SURPRISE. Clinton was pulled kicking and screaming to reform welfare but you need to give the guy credit he did recognize the ultimate flaw with the program. This President is like a teenager, he refuses to see the logic and the need to reform. But what did we expect from a man who never held an executive postion.

    It's time : BO MUST GO!

    August 8, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Ron

    Someone ask why the Mormon church would condone Romney's "unethical" behavior. Wouldn't the answer be that they are major benefactors? How hard is that to deduce?

    August 8, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. pink hase

    Mittens is lying to us now, can you imagine the lies he would tell the Country if he became President. His rich cronies would be getting richer and fatter off the backs of We The People. He is so not qualified to be the President.

    August 8, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "and will continue to distort the truth to the bitter end. "

    That end will be sooner than November if he continues in this matter how much money the wealthy give him. I was sooo looking forward to Obama embarassing Mittens the Platitudipuss during the debates, speaking substance and facts while Mittens regurgitates party line ideology, folksy platitudes, cute one-liners and some heavy misinformation-based criticisms that get a rise out of the GOP/Teatroll base...but I'm guessing they can probably be cancelled by mid to late September due to the results being clear if this continues.

    August 8, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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