WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich admitted Wednesday evening that Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has no evidence the Obama administration dropped work requirements from the nation's welfare law, contradicting a Romney TV ad released a day earlier.
"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," Gingrich told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I believe that totally."
The Romney campaign on Tuesday released a TV ad claiming President Barack Obama "gutted" the 1996 welfare reform law, which changed welfare from a federal entitlement to a program run by states within federal rules.
"Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job," the ad said. "They just send you your welfare check."
In July, the administration announced states could seek waivers from certain welfare rules if they had ideas for projects that would do a better job of increasing employment among welfare recipients. But states have to apply for the waivers first, and the administration has stressed it would not drop requirements for states that don't promise better work outcomes.
Gingrich, who oversaw welfare reform as speaker of the House of Representatives, spent Wednesday defending the Romney ad from skeptical fact-checkers and Ron Haskins, a welfare expert and former House Republican staffer who helped write the welfare reform law.
"First of all, the states have to apply individually for waivers," Haskins said in an NPR interview. "And they have to explain in detail, sometimes using data, why this approach would lead to either more employment or better jobs for people who are trying to get welfare or get off welfare."
Cooper pointed out that the ad says outright that the outcome of the administration's waiver announcement is the removal of work requirements. "That’s not saying 'we assume this' or 'we think this' or 'we worry about this.' It’s saying as a fact 'this will happen,' and that’s just not supported by evidence," Cooper said.
"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 said.
Pressed by Cooper, Gingrich hemmed and hawed, saying, "I believe absolutely the Obama administration is filled with people who do not support the work requirement." He suggested he would have run "a much tougher ad" before finally admitting there is "no proof" for the basic premise of the spot.
The Obama campaign sent a partial clip of Gingrich's CNN interview to reporters. Cooper, for his part, called it a "stunning admission" from Gingrich.
Honeymoons... On The Moon?
In his 1995 book <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=jK8fAQAAMAAJ&q=newt+gingrich+to+renew+america&dq=newt+gingrich+to+renew+america&hl=en&sa=X&ei=z6whT_aUDMLc0QG7p8mACQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAA" target="_hplink"><em>To Renew America</em></a>, Gingrich wrote, "Honeymoons in space will be the vogue by 2020. ... Imagine looking out at the Earth from your honeymoon suite and you will understand even more why it will be a big item."
Sex In Space
Gingrich also explained the appeal of sex in space in <em>To Renew America</em>. "Imagine weightlessness and its effects and you will understand some of the attractions," he wrote.
In a 1981 bill, Gingrich <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/newt-gingrichs-laws-for-governing-a-space-colony" target="_hplink">proposed</a> a path to statehood for a future space-based colony. The bill, which Gingrich called the "Northwest Ordinance for Space," would require a space outpost to have 20,000 residents in order to apply for statehood. "The Congress declares that the United States is committed to the expansion of free people and free institutions into space," reads the bill. Later, the bill briefly discusses the logistics of space statehood, saying that space colonies with enough residents will "establish a constitution and government for themselves."
Farming In Space
While giving <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/newt-gingrichs-big-1986-idea-farmers-in-space" target="_hplink">a speech</a> to the World Science Fiction Convention in 1986, the longtime sci-fi fan described the outer space agricultural hub that could have been. "If we'd spent as much on space as we've spent on farm programs, we could have taken all the extra farmers and put them on space stations working for a living ... in orbiting factories," Gingrich said.
In a 2002 <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/missile/interviews/gingrich.html#ixzz1fOvQH8Pv" target="_hplink">interview</a> with PBS' "Frontline," Gingrich predicted that within a decade, the United States would be able to deflect a missile attack from North Korea or Iran by using "directed energy weapons and laser pulsing systems ... that could actually do that from space."
Light Highways And Fight Crime With Space Mirrors
In his 1984 book <em>Window of Opportunity</em>, Gingrich <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/dec/12/david-brooks/david-brooks-says-newt-gingrich-once-proposed-putt/" target="_hplink">outlined</a> how building mirrors in space would save electricity and help fight crime. "A mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways," he wrote. "Ambient light covering entire areas could reduce the current danger of criminals lurking in the darkness."
Contract With Space
In 2010, Gingrich <a href="http://w3.newsmax.com/a/feb10/gingrich/?promo_code=0" target="_hplink">revived</a> the Contract With America, his famed call-to-action that helped bring a Republican majority to Congress in 1994. His "New Contract With America" was published in <em>Newsmax</em>. Gingrich's fellow conservatives were so inspired by his 21st-century version that one, columnist Matt Lewis, added to the former speaker's plan. One of the points in <a href="http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/01/25/republican-contract-with-america-version-2-0/" target="_hplink">Lewis' plan</a> was the "Science and Final Frontiers Act," which outlined the goal of putting an American on Mars by 2019.