President Obama slammed Mitt Romney’s campaign Wednesday for a controversial ad about changes in welfare policy, saying the newly minted GOP nominee “will not let the fact checkers get in the way” of a political attack.
Obama cited a remark by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, who told reporters that Romney’s campaign would not be swayed by independent fact checkers who concluded the ad was highly inaccurate.
The ad claims that Obama ended the work requirement for people who receive welfare. As several groups have pointed out, the Obama administration gave states more flexibility to determine their own work requirements by agreeing to issue waivers if their policies got more people off welfare. It did not end the work requirement.
But Newhouse said fact checkers bring their own “thoughts and beliefs” to the process. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” he added.
Campaigning in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday, Obama jabbed at that remark in his stump speech. The Romney campaign quickly punched back. The president was offering “blame and accusations” to distract voters from failed policies, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
“This is a President whose campaign has continued to level attacks against Governor Romney that have been widely discredited across the political spectrum,” she wrote in an email. “In 2008, President Obama promised to change Washington and turn around our economy, yet middle class families are suffering with fewer jobs, higher prices, and declining incomes.”
The president also described Romney as a throwback to another era.
On women’s health, the former Massachusetts governor “wants to go backward, sometimes all the way to the last century,” Obama told about 7,500 people at an outdoor pavilion near the campus of the University of Virginia.
The stop was the last on a two-day campaign swing that also took Obama to rallies at Iowa State University and Colorado State University.
The tour was timed to gin up excitement and voter registrations on campuses as students are returning to classes. Obama is hoping for a strong turnout by young people in swing states to pull off a repeat of his 2008 victory.
After a summer of rallies that normally drew only a few thousand people, the official crowd estimate in Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday was more than 13,000, falling just behind the campaign kickoff in Columbus, Ohio, the largest Obama rally of the year.
The campaign issues tickets for its rallies, so it is unclear if the growing crowds reflect an increase in available tickets or greater enthusiasm. Still, they were welcome to a campaign hoping to demonstrate growing energy as the race heads into the final stretch.
The crowds also added a more raucous feel. On Wednesday, Obama was heckled by what sounded like antiwar protesters yelling “Get out of Afghanistan!”
The president eventually answered, saying he couldn’t hear what people were saying but he was happy they were involved. As the crowd shouted the protesters down, Obama added, “Don’t just chant, you got to vote.”
While on the trail, the White House has been careful to show Obama closely monitoring Hurricane Isaac as it pounded the Gulf Coast. Obama was briefed Wednesday morning by federal emergency management officials on the storm’s effects, and the government response. He later held a conference call with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the White House said.