Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Bessent: Clinton defends his welfare reform -- and Obama's actions

Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in

Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 5, 2012) Credit: AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For Bill Clinton, welfare reform is personal. The 42nd president delivered an impassioned, detailed case for President Barack Obama’s reelection Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and gleefully dissected Republican Mitt Romney’s argument for a different outcome. But he cut to the quick on welfare, where he accused Romney of baldly lying to voters when he claims Obama is gutting the welfare work requirement.

“Here's what happened," Clinton said. "When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent. You hear that? More work. So the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform's work requirement is just not true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said, 'We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself – I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.”

Clinton took major heat from his liberal base when he signed the controversial, but subsequently successful, reform into law. He was right to compromise with Republicans to enact it and seemed eager to use this national stage to make it clear that the Obama White House has not abandoned his bipartisan accomplishment.

But more pointedly, he turned a megawatt, primetime spotlight on the Democrats' effort to sell the claim that the Republican ticket is truth-challenged on matters as frivolous as Ryan’s claim to have run a marathon in under three hours or as substantive as the claim that Obama raided $716 billion from Medicare.