Evidence for Mitt Romney’s accusation that President Obama gutted welfare’s work requirement in July is scant. But the welfare attack is about more than these charges; it’s an opportunity to wind back the clocks to the mid-’90s and to re-litigate welfare reform.
And what better surrogate to help in that endeavor than Newt Gingrich?
The former House speaker presided over the passage of welfare reform in the House and made “paychecks versus food stamps” a central theme of his presidential bid earlier this year. And now, the RNC has enlisted his help in attacking Obama on the issue.
Gingrich will begin with an RNC conference call Wednesday morning. According to a CNN report, Gingrich plans to make the rounds on TV and pen op-eds attacking Obama over welfare as well.
The re-emergence of Gingrich fits well with Romney’s broader welfare narrative that Obama is a big-government liberal who prefers welfare checks to paychecks. On the stump in Illinois on Tuesday, Romney pledged to “end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good hard work” — a virtually identical message to Gingrich’s earlier this year.
As the welfare attack shifts from an attack on 2012 to 1996, Romney campaign released a web video Wednesday that focuses on the original passage of the welfare reform. The video points to a slew of Democratic politicians who speaking in support of the legislation, then to a clip of then-state Sen. Obama saying he “would not probably have supported the federal bill.” Their best evidence that Obama is gutting reform now, it seems, is that he opposed it then. (As evidence that Obama has actually decided to gut welfare’s work requirement, the video cites three conservative outlets: the Heritage Foundation, National Review and Fox News.)
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.