WASHINGTON -- During a surprise appearance in the White House Briefing Room on Monday, President Barack Obama responded to Republican challenger Mitt Romney's claim that Obama has "gutted" work requirements for welfare recipients. Obama called the charge "absolutely wrong."
A reporter asked Obama if he was comfortable with the tone of his campaign, pointing to an ad by an Obama-supporting super PAC that implied Romney bore responsibility for a woman's cancer death after her husband lost his job following a buyout by Romney's former company.
"I don't think that Gov. Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad," Obama said. "But keep in mind this is an ad that I didn't approve, I did not produce, and as far as I can tell, has barely run."
"Now, in contrast you've got Gov. Romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we're taking the work requirement out of welfare, which every single person here who's looked at it says is patently false," Obama said. "What he's arguing is somehow we have changed the welfare requirement, the work requirement in our welfare laws. And, in fact, what's 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 their welfare rolls as long as it produced 20 percent increases in the number of people who are getting work."
Nevada and Utah were among the states interested in greater flexibility in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, better known as welfare. The Obama administration has not announced that any waivers have gone out.
"Everybody who's looked at this says what Gov. Romney's saying is absolutely wrong," Obama continued. "Not only are his super PACs running millions of dollars worth of ads making this claim, Gov. Romney himself is approving this and saying it on the stump. So the contrast, I think, is pretty stark. They can run the campaign that they want, but the truth of the matter is you can't just make stuff up."
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