he presidential campaign ad wars got even more heated this week, with Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of gutting the bipartisan welfare reform law signed by then-president Bill Clinton in 1996 (see the new ad below). The Obama administration issued a directive last month offering states waivers from the rule that welfare recipients must be working or training for work. Bad move, says Romney, who argues that this will discourage people from seeking the dignity of work, as they kick back and wait for welfare checks. White House spokesman Jay Carney called the charge "blatantly dishonest." Has Romney successfully skewered the president this time?
This ad will backfire on Romney: The trouble with slamming Obama for giving states flexibility on implementing welfare reform, says Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo, is that "Romney himself pushed the federal government for a similar policy" when he was governor of Massachusetts. In 2005, he joined 28 other GOP governors to ask Congress for "even more flexibility than Obama has offered." By attacking Obama, Romney's raising the question of whether he has flip-flopped.
"Romney ad attacks Obama on welfare flexibility Romney championed"
Romney has really hit pay dirt: Nice try with the flip-flop spin, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, but Romney was only looking to give states flexibility in determining work requirements — Obama has long wanted to "gut the bipartisan welfare reform" altogether. "That gives Romney an easy opening for attack." He gets to paint Obama as "so extreme that he can't even agree with Bill Clinton," and so power-mad that he's bypassing Congress and dictating policy unilaterally.
"New Romney ad attacks Obama on 'gutting' welfare reform"
Everybody loses here: Romney's welfare ad is merely the latest attack to shove the presidential campaign along "its sharply negative trajectory," says Tom Cohen at CNN. Team Romney has coined the term "Obamaloney" to describe what it considers deceitful criticism on the president's part; the Obama campaign has hit back with the term "Romneyhood" to drive home its charge that Romney's tax policies rob from the poor to give to the rich. At this rate, both candidates are getting petty fast.
"Presidential campaign gets even dirtier"
Take a look at Romney's latest salvo in the presidential campaign ad war:
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