WASHINGTON — Republican Mitt Romney is making a new push to cast President Barack Obama as a big government liberal, accusing him of dismantling welfare reform, while Democrats renew efforts to paint Romney as a profit-driven businessman.
The Romney campaign released a new television ad Tuesday bashing Obama for removing work requirements from federal welfare regulations, a key element of President Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare overhaul. The ad contends that Obama simply wants to hand out welfare checks, while Romney would restore the work requirement.
The White House says Obama's decision last month to change welfare requirements gives states the flexibility they have been asking for to make the program more efficient. Romney was among several Republican governors who signed a letter in 2005 asking for more "waiver authority." Romney is a former Massachusetts governor.
The Romney campaign sees Obama's move as an opportunity to argue that the president is a liberal who wants to give the poor a free pass at the expense of the middle class.
The welfare push also aims to drive a wedge between Obama and Clinton, who has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the president's re-election bid. The Obama campaign, seeking to take advantage of Clinton's popularity and strong economic record while in office, gave Clinton a high-profile, prime-time speaking role at the Democratic convention in early September.
Priorities USA Action released a new television advertisement Monday targeting Romney's business record at Bain Capital, the private equity fund he ran. The ad features a former employee at GST Steel who lost his job and health insurance when Bain closed the Kansas-based steel plant in 2001. The man says he doesn't think Romney "understands what he's done to people's lives" by closing the plant.
Meanwhile, Republicans announced more speakers for the convention opening Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla., where Romney will officially accept the GOP nomination. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who challenged Romney during the primaries, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are among them.