Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has run multiple false advertisements accusing the Obama administration of “gutting” the 1996 welfare reform law through a waiver program that will give states more latitude in applying the law’s work requirements. The ads, debunked by many news outlets, are blatantly false — the waivers do not “gut” the law, and work requirements remain in place. Romney himself supported an even more expansive waiver program while he was governor of Massachusetts.
The Romney campaign, undeterred by the obvious falsehoods, has both continued running the ads and released new ones. On Tuesday, when asked by an NPR reporter why the campaign continues to run the ads, Romney political director Rich Beeson laughed off their brazen lack of truth, stating that “reasonable people can have a disagreement” about whether the oft-debunked ads are false:
STEVE INSKEEP (NPR): “Doesn’t the change mean that the governors can choose or can apply to change the work requirement as opposed to being forced to remove it?”
BEESON: “Again, that still is a change.”
INSKEEP: “But it’s not, quote, ‘they just send you your check,’ which is what the ad says.”
BEESON: (laughs) “I think reasonable people can have a disagreement over this but he [Obama] has significantly changed what President Clinton put in in 1996.”
The Romney campaign’s apparent disagreement with the notion that facts are true (and still matter) was reinforced later in the day, when campaign pollster Neil Newhouse told BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Neither, judging by Romney’s repeated struggles with the truth, are they going to let their campaign be dictated by actual facts.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlights Romney’s own words, from earlier this month, citing fact-checkers against an Obama advertisement and lamenting the days of past when false ads were pulled from the air:
“You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney said on the radio. “They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.”