Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)
When President Obama agreed to extend additional flexibility to states on welfare experimentation, he did so in response to a request from two Republican governors: Utah's Gary Herbert and Nevada's Brian Sandoval. Because Obama agreed to these GOP officials' request, Mitt Romney is falsely accusing the president of "gutting" welfare reform.
The reality, whether it's said out loud or not, is that every relevant player knows Romney's blatantly lying. Reporters know it; Obama knows it; Republicans know it; Bill Clinton knows it; Romney certainly knows it; and even Herbert and Sandoval know it. They are, after all, the ones who asked for the waivers in the first place.
So Greg Sargent did something smart: he asked the Republican governors' offices for their take on Romney's demonstrably ridiculous claim. They both dodged.
The statement from Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office said: "Utah's request for a waiver stems from a desire for increased customization of the program to maximize employment among Utah's welfare recipients," adding that the state had needed "flexibility to customize work-focused solutions."
Meanwhile, the statement from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval's office maintained that its request to the White House was "not a request to weaken work requirements" or a request for a "waiver to eliminate welfare work requirements for recipients."
Right. Obama gave Herbert the "flexibility to customize work-focused solutions," so he and the president are on the same page, and Sandoval and Obama agree that the waiver doesn't "weaken work requirements," though Romney is falsely claiming the opposite.
Of course, the governors can't come right out and say they agree with the Democratic president, even though he did what they asked him to do, but they can't disagree with him, either. They have their own creative approaches to implementing the law, and Obama is allowing them to implement these ideas in a way the GOP likes. Hell, even Romney supported the flexibility he's now condemning.
So Herbert and Sandoval have no choice but to hedge, rather that admit what they (and we) already know: Romney is deliberately deceiving the public, hoping the media won't care and voters won't know.