White House senior adviser David Plouffe charged that the Romney campaign is “built on a tripod of lies,” criticizing the Republican ticket for their attacks on President Obama over welfare, Medicare, and small businesses.
“Right now their campaign is built on a tripod of lies,” Plouffe told me this morning on “This Week.” “A welfare attack that is just absolutely untrue. The suggestion we’re raiding Medicare – absolutely untrue. And then this whole ‘we can’t build it’ nonsense.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a presidential campaign ever that’s built on a foundation of absolute lies. And I think ultimately they’re going to pay a price for that,” Plouffe added.
Plouffe, Obama’s top political adviser and the architect of his 2008 election victory, defended the president over a Romney campaign attack ad charging that he has moved to gut the work requirements from welfare reform.
“On welfare, it’s absolutely untrue. Everyone who looked at it is outraged,” Plouffe said of the Romney ad on welfare. “This is a president who believes in his core that hard work must be rewarded. And if people aren’t willing to work hard, or be irresponsible, we shouldn’t help them.”
Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz charged Thursday that the Romney campaign was playing the race card with the welfare attack, using it as a “dog whistle” for voters to consider race.
“[W]hy else would Mitt Romney make a supposedly casual joke about the president’s place of birth…? Why else would he spend millions of dollars of Mitt Romney campaign money talking about [welfare]… except to be a dog whistle for voters who consider race when casting their ballot?” Wasserman Schultz told U.S. News and World Report.
Plouffe would not say whether he agreed with Wasserman Schultz that the Romney campaign was playing the race card, saying, “As to their motivations, I’ll leave that to them.”
“They’ll have to answer what they’re trying to do,” Plouffe said. “I think they are trying to suggest somehow that we’re trying to give a bunch of handouts to people, which is just not true.”
While defending the president, Plouffe notably refused to say whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago, even after I pressed him multiple times on the issue. He did say we have “made a lot of progress from the depths of recession” but “have a lot more work to do.”
Here’s part of our exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: “Yes or no, are Americans better off today than they were four years ago?”
PLOUFFE: “Listen, George, they did a good job of reciting all the statistics that everyone is familiar with. I think everybody understands we were this close to a great depression we staved that off. We’re beginning to recover. We have a lot more work to do. We need to grow jobs more quickly, we need to grow middle-class incomes more quickly.”
“But the question for American people, is which path are we going to take? If we take Mitt Romney’s path, economists have looked at this, the recovery would slow down, we wouldn’t produce jobs. He would give huge tax cuts to people like himself and send a bill to the middle class and seniors.”
“So, the question is we’re going to be far worse off if Mitt Romney is elected president. And he gets a chance to enact the same economic policies that created the mess in the first place.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “So, it sounds like, a year ago, the president told me, I don’t think Americans are better off than they were four years ago. You still can’t say yes?”
PLOUFFE: Well, we clearly improved from the depths of the recession. We were losing 800,000 a month, we’re now gaining them. The unemployment rate was around 10, it’s come down. We’re beginning to see a manufacturing sector emerge, one of the great, bright spots right now is we’re adding manufacturing jobs. ”
“The American automotive industry was close to extinction. Mitt Romney would have let it go away, by the way. We wouldn’t have an automotive industry if he was president. President Obama secured that. We are beginning to really make advances in alternative energy in things like batteries. So we have made a lot of progress from the depths of recession. We have a lot more work to do.”