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Romney called for mothers on welfare to get jobs

Mitt Romney last week declared his belief that “all moms are working moms,” but he insisted as recently as January that women on welfare need to get jobs, even if they have young children.

Romney defended his wife, Ann, a stay-at-home mother, on Friday after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said earlier in the week that Ann Romney is unqualified to speak for women’s economic concerns because she “has actually never worked a day in her life.”

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Romney, himself, has said the “all moms are working moms” argument does not apply to mothers who accept welfare assistance.

“Even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney said at a Jan. 4 campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., describing his position as Massachusetts governor. “And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’ ”

Romney’s comment came in response to a question about welfare dependence and personal responsibility, and his campaign pointed out similarities between it and a statement Democratic former President Bill Clinton made in 1996, when he signed welfare reform legislation.

“This act honors my basic principles of real welfare reform. It requires work of welfare recipients, limits the time they can stay on welfare, and provides child care and health care to help them make the move from welfare to work,” Clinton said at the time. “It demands personal responsibility, and puts in place tough child support enforcement measures.”

Romney said in New Hampshire that he favors unemployment accounts for workers “where, basically, during their career, they’re putting money into an unemployment insurance account, and if they become unemployed, they can take money out. And they can use it for education, job training. They could use it for unemployment benefits, and that would give people an incentive to move as quickly as they possibly could back into the workforce.”

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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