Obama pushes back on welfare attacks, addresses controversial Priorities ad
August 20th, 2012
03:42 PM ET
10 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. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Was anyone listening to President Obama. There a lot of super pac adds on both sides neither President Obama or Mr Romney has no control over them the news media are paid big money to show these paid commercial

    August 20, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Mikey

    @Four – "he absolutely did change the work requirement"
    Sorry, WRONG. A lie doesn't become true just because you repeat it over and over.

    @Four – "I suppose then you didn't believe the independent report"
    What independant report? Paid for by whom? Problem is you can't escape the fact that Romney-Ryan want to give you a voucher ("premium support") that increases in value at COLA, when healthcare expense increase at a much greater rate. In 20 years, almost no seniors will be able to afford insurance. Their solution just shifts the burden onto seniors. It doesn't solve the problem.

    August 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. ghost

    Four, the 'change' in the work requirement would be up to the state's to handle,providing that they showed where their ideas would reduce their welfare roles. And yes, republican govenors did ask for such changes.

    You can say obama lied about changing the requirement, but if we are to cut and paste what was said, u must include romney's support of this as well. Up to you.

    August 20, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Indy

    Retroactive Romney just cant stand the truth and whines like a baby everytime he is busted with facts, but he sure likes to keep his lies going even though he gets his pants on fire for every ad he brings out.

    August 20, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. American People

    @Four & the door. There is no way a voucher plan can increase the quality of care. The voucher plan will not keep up with medical inflation and will not be able to control health care costs. Insurance hasn't been able to control costs today. The voucher plan will eventually make it so only the rich will be able to afford health care. The poor can just die. But that's what the republicans want right?

    August 20, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Barry

    To GOP:

    There is a religious bigot in every crowd – although somehow there seem to be more of them in the Democratic crowd

    August 20, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Jerry

    "Obama pushes back on welfare attacks, addresses controversial Priorities ad." Are you kidding me?! The welfare ads are NOT attacks; they are REAL truths. Mr. Obamboozzeler is just shamelessly trying to buy votes, and even more shameful, with taxpayer dollars.

    Before HE criticizes so called controversial ads, HE needs to look at his PAC or HIS own REALLY, REALLY controversial/unfounded ads. Of course that "ain't" gonna happen as HE never lies or does anything wrong, or worst, never admits his own mistakes and not always telling the truth.

    Can we afford four more years of all the smoke and mirrors?! I THINK NOT!!!

    August 20, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Half lie ( he absolutely did change the work requirement )"

    Yes, apparently he made it more stringent by 20% in order for the state to receive the waiver. It's still in place. Mittens claimed that Obama was getting rid of it. THAT was the lie. Obama is 100% correct in saying he didn't change it in the way Mittens was accusing. He's strengthening the work requirement. Your talking-point parrot lies are really getting tiresome. Truly.

    August 20, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "The welfare ads are NOT attacks; they are REAL truths."

    They are demonstrable lies and have been undeniable proven as such. Take off the tinfoil hat and let your scalp breathe.

    August 20, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "There a lot of super pac adds on both sides neither President Obama or Mr Romney has no control over them the news media are paid big money to show these paid commercial"

    Except in this case it was a PAC supporting Obama with this Soptic ad, whereas Mittens' campaign is directly responsible for the demonstrably false welfare and Medicare attacks.

    August 20, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Hammerer

    Sniffit where in the world do you get your ideas?

    August 20, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. CNN Fan

    Simple thing that Americans see now...in the GOP ads or Romney ad are misleading...untrue ...ridiculous...because Americans know the fact ...one thing that Americans know Romney campaign for sure is they lie to Americans..Flip-flop...not just in the ad but when Romney responded to reporters....Americans can see his statement are flip-flop from day to day...No matter what they trying to paint the President in their ads...Most Americans distrust him already...Poor Romney and GOP...You waste of money on ads....

    August 20, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. once upon a horse

    this ad campaign was so untrue that even Newt Gingrich couldn't defend it......he gave a sort of half-hearted "we'll get back to you" type comment when he was called out on it over a week ago. But it works with the anti-Obama folks which is really who it is aimed at.

    August 20, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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