Mitt Romney says that Obama allowed a waiver for the work requirement for welfare -- if states have a better way of getting recipients into jobs -- so that the President could "shore up his base." Romney probably didn't mean the Republican governors who asked for the waivers but, fitting with his campaign's recent message, poor black people who take white people's money.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe Monday, Chris Matthews tore into Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus about the welfare attacks and Romney's birther jokes, saying Republicans were playing the race card. Priebus seemed slightly taken aback by the angry Matthews, and the show's hosts tried awkwardly to calm him down. They failed. Priebus said Romney was just talking about his Michigan roots, and accused Matthews of being unable to take a joke. Matthews yelled that "The first joke he ever told in his life is about Obama's birth certificate."
Romney's advisers believe Romney "needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters and to persuade them that he is the best answer to their economic frustrations," The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reported. And as we pointed out on Friday, if Romney gets 61 percent of the white vote, he wins. If you have any doubt that Romney is playing the race card, check out his YouTube page. There are five ads falsely accusing Obama of gutting welfare reform. The Republican National Committee has put out its own welfare ad. And another three Romney ads say Obama is raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare. The latter ads show white faces and say "you paid in" but now health care is going to somebody else.
Let's look at some of the visuals in these ads. I've turned them into GIF form to show the most race-y parts so you don't have to sit through a whole video. This is from the RNC's ad "Never Happened":
Obama would have blocked the reforms of Bill Clinton, who oh by the way is white. What's fascinating about this is even though the screen looks whiter, Obama's skin looks darker. The original C-SPAN footage from 1998 looks like this:
Obama was talking about how he wasn't a fan of the federal law, but it provided an opportunity to end the warehousing of poor blacks away from the neighborhoods of working-class whites. In Romney's ad, "The Rise and Fall of Welfare Reform," the same footage looks like this:
Other images show a smug Obama thinking about his welfare trickery. This is from Romney's ad "Long History":
And who is getting screwed by Obama's welfare handouts? Old white people. Here's an image from "Paid In," Romney's ad claiming that Obama is raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare.
The New York Times's Tom Edsall says that the Medicare ads are meant to work with the welfare ads in order to "turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor."
"Last I checked, John McCain never suggested openly that his rival's base was welfare recipients. Or did I miss that part?" The New Republic's Alec MacGillis tweets. In July, an unnamed Romney adviser told BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins that Romney would boldly go where McCain would not in 2008. Romney "believes it's time to vet the president," the aide said. "He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it." On conservative blogs, "vetting" means calling Obama a leftist foreigner. The first person from the Romeny campaign to dip a toe into that was surrogate John Sununu, who said Obama needed to learn how to be an American in late July. Romney tried it Friday with a birther joke. Romney told USA Today Monday he was merely trying to be "human" and "spontaneous." It's hard to reconcile that with the image of Romney -- promoted by the campaign -- as a cautious and careful planner who looks at all the numbers before making a decision. The most important number in this case is still 61 percent.