August 8th, 2012
07:29 PM ET
7 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

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

    I just can't take these Republican liars anymore. Even if you lie your way into office, you can't sustain that. Eventually the people will rise up.

    August 9, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  2. Jim

    The GOP trusts the "liberal" governors to decide abortion issues but not welfare to work issues. If a Republican had done this the GOP would be giving them a standing ovation but because it's Obama they have their typical knee jerk reaction to it.

    August 9, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  3. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    No proof that unicorns or trolls exist today either. These thugs will do anyjting to get power so they can finish the job that bush and cheney started.

    August 9, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  4. exrepublican

    Ok then, we have no proof today that Romney doesn't pay taxes. But I would say to you, under Romneys ideology it is absolutely true that he would be ok if we ALL hid our money to avoid paying taxes. Gingrich, you are an idiot!

    August 9, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. Dilip Samuels

    Gingrich and Bachmann ...always outrageous, stretching the truth to fit their grandiose thinking...usually not shared by fellow Americans

    But birds of a feather they are........just TEA PARTY BUDDIES....

    August 9, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  6. w l jones

    Welfare! welfare some people have never did one eight hours work day in theirs life but can disdain other for thing they never did. Said enough.

    August 9, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  7. larry

    People who Obama is giving "free stuff" from his "stash" are going to vote for him to keep getting the "free stuff".

    August 9, 2012 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  8. wm Scot

    This guy thoug he could be president !!!! What a tool !

    August 9, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  9. Jeff in Virginia

    So... Gingrich defends the Romney welfare attacks, but agrees that they are lies? This is bizarre.

    August 9, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  10. Indie in VA

    It would be more accurate if the GOP would just rename themselves to The Party of Hypocrisy.

    August 9, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. BinaryTooth

    Repubs don't realize that I can't support my family without goverment assistance. Obama wants to take care of us that can't take care of ourselves. I have 3 kids and how are they going to get fed? The repubs would let them go hungry, but Obama givs us dignity so nobody can look down their nose at the grocery store while I am forced to use food stamps.

    Obama 2012

    August 9, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. v_mag

    Newter said: "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."
    I don't know about that, but I do know that Romney = Bush. Not a dime's difference between the two. Who wants four more years of Bush? [Silence]

    August 9, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Joan

    CNN you are doing it again. Comparing the two ads, the one on welfare and the other on health insurance, is like comparing apples to oranges. The one ad is from the candidate's own campaign, he would have approved it, he uses the same language on the stump and they have paid to have it run. The other ad is from a Super Pac which is not under the control of the campaign and it has NOT been run at all yet. They don't have to pay to run it because CNN is doing it for free for them. The Romney ad has been proven to be 100% false but yet he still says those things on the trail. If you think about it, the Obama Super Pac ad has a lot of truth in it. When companies were shut down by Bain, people lost their health insurance and therefore a lot of preventative screening and care. Thus, when this man's wife became so ill he obviously was upset because had she had proper monitoring, it might have been caught early and cured. Actually this ad, if they decide to air it, may make people think more about the health care act and what they will lose if Romney gets in and repeals it. This may be a genius way for the Democrats to get the health care debate back in people's minds. I guess CNN is actually helping them. In your effort to be "fair", you keep trying to make the two ads equal which they are definitely not. It is like last summer when the Republicans and Tea Party single handedly held the government hostage, made the country a laughing stock around the world, caused the credit rating to drop to AA and almost caused the country to default on its debts. However media coverage tried to make it seem like the obstruction was equal on both sides. Anyone with half a brain saw that was not true. So, if this is all the political controversy you can come up with, it is going to be a "media lite" election season.

    August 9, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. marty

    Newt Gingrich knows he won't ever attain a high position in government again so he is fast and loose with his mouth. He has made a career of using specific words that will evoke a guttural, visceral reaction from the natives who engage in fear mongering , superstition, and hate. "Food stamp president or gutting a system" are recent examples of Newt's pandering.
    And, why shouldn't he, after all, just as he calculates the benefits of his marriages and divorces for personal gain depending on his national ambitions, this is how he makes his millions and satisfies his ego.

    August 9, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  15. Ed FL

    The husteler in chief is out trying to find enough suckers to pay off his debt. Beawre if you are a female that has substantial amounts of money available The GOP version of old time bandits is on the loose again.Gingrich rides again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 9, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ginrich is not a man I would use to defend myself to the American electorate. He really isn't. Then again, TeamRomney isn't exactly what I would call a winning team either. I don't know how much longer TeamRomney can continue stumbling around before the public finally becomes too weary to care anymore.

    I myself think TeamRomney reached the point of no return back in June when Romney first began showing his desperation by lying off the cuff for no other reason then he is ill prepared to handle the job he really doesn't want anyway. Truth is, all Romney is interested in is the TITLE of President. It sounds better than CEO.

    Jon Huntsmann was correct. Weather-vanes aren't electable. Neither are Corporations.

    August 9, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. king

    they repubs got themselves a real class warfare pusher to push their lies and ignorancy to the gullible i think mitten lies and flip flopping skillls may be dwindling.

    August 9, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    during the GOP convention I'll make sure I find plenty of things to read or take the kids out to the park or something to keep from having to watch it. Seeing Romney and Santorum and Gingrinch up on the stage holding hands in a Kum-bah-ya moment might make me lose all my lunch. Plus throw in Sarah Palin and Donald Trump I am not sure if my flat screen could take all the lies that will be spouting out. That's one Obama-hate fest I can skip.

    August 9, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    The Romney campaign has adopted the Palin/Bachmann strategy of not allowing facts get in the way of what you are saying.

    August 9, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. ghostriter

    I gotta tell ya, Romney's surrogates are so bad that I would honestly believe that they are secretly working for team Obama.

    There is absolutely not one ounce of evidence to proof any of this, but I think that based on what I know about the guy, it's totally possible that this might happen.

    If his family was in MA, he'd have Romneycare and his wife might be alive.

    My candidate is an etch a sketch. Shake regularly to change positions.

    Romney might need to pick Trump as his VP to take the heat of stupid statements off him and on to someone else.

    August 9, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Arch

    Obama is the welfare and food stamp President.

    August 9, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. Peggy Munro

    Do people even know who is receiving welfare, or the reasons why they are receiving assistance? Using people in need as political bate is morally and ethically wrong. Nobody gets ahead on, or views welfare as the optimum state of living so please stop making it sound as though the President is encouraging people to be on welfare. As a matter of fact, the very word welfare is demeaning. Social assistance or assistance has more dignity. Stop dividing and stigmatizing people. As a Community Organizer, I am sure the President has met some outstanding people who for various reasons receive/received assistance; thus, he understands their struggles and knows how and why some need assistance and that they should be helped in a manner that allows them to keep their dignity and work steadily to improve their fortunes and that of the family members, especially the future generation.

    August 9, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. GI Joe

    Peggy Munro – if a soldier (lots are on welfare/food stamps) has 4 or 5 kids, they qualify for a certain amount because their income is less than 135% of poverty level.

    August 9, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. Jeff in Virginia

    CNN- you really need to stop giving Gingrich a microphone. The same goes for Erickson and Loesch.

    August 9, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Pander Bear

    "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."

    Unbelievable!! What the h3ll is that? Issuing a disclaimer in the beginning of a sentence and then adding a complete falsehood at the end? I have no proof but this statement is true? Lemme try and turn this around.

    "We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Romney's ideology it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people to death camps for being poor." How's that workin' for ya, GOP?

    August 9, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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