-- DES MOINES—For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama on welfare reform, accusing his Democratic opponent of ditching a work requirement for those receiving government assistance.
Speaking at a local high school here, Romney charged that Obama was undermining welfare reforms signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. But he added a new argument, telling supporters here that Obama spoke out against the work requirement when he was a member of the Illinois legislature.
Romney accused Obama of simply carrying out his "original intent" to dial back the Clinton-era reforms with a recent Department of Human Services directive that removed some federal work requirements in order to allow states to be more flexible in determining who could qualify for government assistance.
"It is wrong to make any change that would make America more of a nation of government dependency," Romney said. "We must restore work in welfare."
If elected, Romney vowed to roll back the DHS directive, telling supporters, "I want more people working if they're going to receive government assistance."
Romney's comment came just hours after Clinton issued a statement calling Romney's claims "not true." And it happened just a day after the Romney campaign released a television ad attacking Obama on welfare reform, a spot that used Clinton's image. On Tuesday, the White House and the Obama campaign trashed Romney's claims on welfare reform as "blatantly dishonest."
It was Romney's first visit to Iowa in more than a month. Taking the stage, he called Des Moines a "home away from home" and gave a shout-out to Centro, an Italian restaurant popular among media and political types in town covering the Iowa caucuses.
But Romney quickly became somber, arguing that Obama's policies have not helped Americans around the country who are struggling.
"It's tough to be in the middle class in America today," he said.